Researchers Link Protein Tau with Long-term Traumatic Brain Injury Effects


A new study from the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) may eventually mean good news for individuals who suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI). The study, performed on military personnel who had been deployed for combat in Afghanistan and/or Iraq within the previous 18 months, found that a protein called Tau might be linked to long-term complications typically associated with TBI.

98 members of the military participated in the study – 70 with a history of TBI and 28 without a history of TBI. In these individuals, neurological and psychological symptoms were studied against blood samples.

If an individual has tau in his or her blood, it is released by the nerve cells, typically after an axonal injury has occurred (meaning the brain’s neurons can become unresponsive to other parts of the body) after a TBI. Prior to this study, it was believed that tau levels gradually returned to normal after a period of time following a TBI.

However, researchers measured levels of tau in the blood of individuals at different lengths of time after they had experienced a traumatic brain injury. The protein was previously known for its role in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients and now is believed to be a factor in those who suffer from chronic neurological symptoms such as post-concussive disorder, still present in the blood months after the original onset. Conclusions led researchers to believe that the presence and accumulation of tau alone may be the cause of these symptoms.

According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Jessica Gill, Chief of NINR’s Brain Injury Unit, the study may lead to a framework that can help healthcare professionals identify the individuals at high risk for chronic neurological symptoms after suffering a TBI. These biomarkers and the resulting early and preventative treatments may decrease the effects and damage that can be caused by these symptoms over prolonged periods of time.  Further tests to come with more sensitive technology and more concrete measurements will be even more illuminating.

If you’re a veteran suffering from the effects of traumatic brain injury or another service-connected disability, having an experienced Charlotte Veterans Disability Attorney on your side can help you obtain the veterans’ disability benefits you deserve. Call us toll-free at 877-526-3455 or use our online contact form to set up your free initial consultation.

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