A recent NHS Choices critical appraisal has covered research into the role and development of Tau protein and speculating whether traumatic brain injury might provide opportunities for Tau proteins to spread. This research found that short exposure to Tau proteins outside of neural cells can lead to the infection of healthy cells, and initiate the aggregation of endogenous Tau. The resulting Tau aggregates can subsequently be released back into the extracellular medium, where they are in turn capable of infecting other cells and causing a neurodegenerative chain reaction.
This research has been misinterpreted (or over-interpreted) by the media as implying that footballers and boxers could be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease.
Footballers ‘no more likely’ to get Alzheimer’s disease. London: NHS Choices; Behind the Headlines, November 28th 2013.
This relates to:
Michel, CH. Kumar, S. [and] Pinotsi, D. [et al] (2013). Extracellular monomeric Tau is sufficient to initiate the spread of Tau pathology. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, November 14th 2013, [Epub ahead of print]. (Click here to view the PubMed abstract).