Acute and chronic traumatic encephalopathies: pathogenesis and biomarkers

Nat Rev Neurol. 2013 Apr;9(4):192-200. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2013.36.


Over the past decade, public awareness of the long-term pathological consequences of traumatic brain injury (TBI) has increased. Such awareness has been stimulated mainly by reports of progressive neurological dysfunction in athletes exposed to repetitive concussions in high-impact sports such as boxing and American football, and by the rising number of TBIs in war veterans who are now more likely to survive explosive blasts owing to improved treatment. Moreover, the entity of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)--which is marked by prominent neuropsychiatric features including dementia, parkinsonism, depression, agitation, psychosis, and aggression--has become increasingly recognized as a potential late outcome of repetitive TBI. Annually, about 1% of the population in developed countries experiences a clinically relevant TBI. The goal of this Review is to provide an overview of the latest understanding of CTE pathophysiology, and to delineate the key issues that are challenging clinical and research communities, such as accurate quantification of the risk of CTE, and development of reliable biomarkers for single-incident TBI and CTE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Injuries* / complications
  • Brain Injuries* / etiology
  • Brain Injuries* / metabolism
  • Brain Injury, Chronic* / diagnosis
  • Brain Injury, Chronic* / etiology
  • Brain Injury, Chronic* / metabolism
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / classification
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Neuroimaging


  • Biomarkers