The acute and long-term consequences of traumatic brain injury (TBI) have received increased attention in recent years. In this Review, we discuss the neuropathology and neural mechanisms associated with TBI, drawing on findings from sports-induced TBI in athletes, in whom acute TBI damages axons and elicits both regenerative and degenerative tissue responses in the brain and in whom repeated concussions may initiate a long-term neurodegenerative process called dementia pugilistica or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). We also consider how the neuropathology and neurobiology of CTE in many ways resembles other neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, particularly with respect to mismetabolism and aggregation of tau, β-amyloid, and TDP-43. Finally, we explore how translational research in animal models of acceleration/deceleration types of injury relevant for concussion together with clinical studies employing imaging and biochemical markers may further elucidate the neurobiology of TBI and CTE.
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