Tau Positron Emission Tomography and Neurocognitive Function Among Former Professional American-Style Football Players

Maeva Dhaynaut, Rachel Grashow, Marc D Normandin, Ona Wu, Dean Marengi, Douglas P Terry, Justin S Sanchez, Marc G Weisskopf, Frank E Speizer, Herman A Taylor, Nicolas J Guehl, Sudha Seshadri, Alexa Beiser, Daniel H Daneshvar, Keith Johnson, Grant L Iverson, Ross Zafonte, Georges El Fakhri, Aaron L Baggish

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American-style football (ASF) players experience repetitive head impacts that may result in chronic traumatic encephalopathy neuropathological change (CTE-NC). At present, a definitive diagnosis of CTE-NC requires the identification of localized hyperphosphorylated Tau (p-Tau) after death via immunohistochemistry. Some studies suggest that positron emission tomography (PET) with the radiotracer [ 18F]-Flortaucipir (FTP) may be capable of detecting p-Tau and thus establishing a diagnosis of CTE-NC among living former ASF players. To assess associations between FTP, football exposure, and objective neuropsychological measures among former professional ASF players, we conducted a study that compared former professional ASF players with age-matched male control participants without repetitive head impact exposure. Former ASF players and male controls underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging and PET using FTP for p-Tau and [ 11C]-PiB for amyloid-β. Former players underwent neuropsychological testing. The ASF exposure was quantified as age at first exposure, professional career duration, concussion signs and symptoms burden, and total years of any football play. Neuropsychological testing included measures of memory, executive functioning, and depression symptom severity. P-Tau was quantified as FTP standardized uptake value ratios (SUVR) and [ 11C]-PiB by distribution volume ratios (DVR) using cerebellar grey matter as the reference region. There were no significant differences in [ 18F]-FTP uptake among former ASF players ( n  = 27, age = 50 ± 7 years) compared with control participants ( n  = 11, age = 55 ± 4 years), nor did any participant have significant amyloid-β burden. Among ASF participants, there were no associations between objective measures of neurocognitive functioning and [ 18F]-FTP uptake. There was a marginally significant difference, however, between [ 18F]-FTP uptake isolated to the entorhinal cortex among players in age-, position-, and race-adjusted models ( p  = 0.05) that may represent an area of future investigation. The absence of increased [ 18F]-FTP uptake in brain regions previously implicated in CTE among former professional ASF players compared with controls questions the utility of [ 18F]-FTP PET for clinical evaluation in this population.

Idioma originalEnglish (US)
PublicaciónJournal of Neurotrauma
EstadoE-pub ahead of print - jun 28 2023


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