Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a professional American wrestler

J Forensic Nurs. 2010 Fall;6(3):130-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-3938.2010.01078.x.


We present in this case report the tissue substrates and forensic evidence for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a professional American wrestler with Apolipoprotein E (apoE) genotyping. Professional wrestling is a contact-sport, with an integral risk for players to sustain repeated concussions over their careers. This case provides the first autopsy evidence of neuropathological abnormalities that accompany CTE in professional American wrestlers. A complete autopsy was performed on a 40-year-old Caucasian male, after he died unexpectedly by suicidal hanging after he had killed his wife and son. The brain showed no atrophy and no recent or remote contusions or necrosis. There was a mild to moderate neocortical neuronal dropout without any amyloid plaques. There were diffuse, sparse to frequent tau-immunoreactive Neurofibrillary Tangles and Neuropil Threads in the neocortex, subcortical ganglia, and brainstem nuclei including the substantia nigra consistent with CTE. The apoE genotype was determined to be E3/E3. Other autopsy findings included cardiomegaly, left ventricular hypertrophy, and bilateral atrioventricular dilatation; toxicologic analyses showed alprazolam and hydrocodone in the blood, and evidence of exogenous testosterone in the urine. Longitudinal studies of professional contact-sport athletes are needed to identify the differentiating characteristics of athletes who develop CTE and devise strategies for intervention.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anabolic Agents / adverse effects
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics*
  • Autopsy
  • Brain Concussion / complications
  • Brain Injury, Chronic* / etiology
  • Brain Injury, Chronic* / pathology
  • Depression / complications
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Forensic Nursing
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Homicide
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide
  • Testosterone / adverse effects
  • Wrestling / injuries*


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Testosterone