In vivo characterization of chronic traumatic encephalopathy using [F-18]FDDNP PET brain imaging

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Apr 21;112(16):E2039-47. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1409952112. Epub 2015 Apr 6.


Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is an acquired primary tauopathy with a variety of cognitive, behavioral, and motor symptoms linked to cumulative brain damage sustained from single, episodic, or repetitive traumatic brain injury (TBI). No definitive clinical diagnosis for this condition exists. In this work, we used [F-18]FDDNP PET to detect brain patterns of neuropathology distribution in retired professional American football players with suspected CTE (n = 14) and compared results with those of cognitively intact controls (n = 28) and patients with Alzheimer's dementia (AD) (n = 24), a disease that has been cognitively associated with CTE. [F-18]FDDNP PET imaging results in the retired players suggested the presence of neuropathological patterns consistent with models of concussion wherein brainstem white matter tracts undergo early axonal damage and cumulative axonal injuries along subcortical, limbic, and cortical brain circuitries supporting mood, emotions, and behavior. This deposition pattern is distinctively different from the progressive pattern of neuropathology [paired helical filament (PHF)-tau and amyloid-β] in AD, which typically begins in the medial temporal lobe progressing along the cortical default mode network, with no or minimal involvement of subcortical structures. This particular [F-18]FDDNP PET imaging pattern in cases of suspected CTE also is primarily consistent with PHF-tau distribution observed at autopsy in subjects with a history of mild TBI and autopsy-confirmed diagnosis of CTE.

Keywords: [F-18]FDDNP PET; chronic traumatic encephalopathy; concussions; tau imaging; traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Amygdala / microbiology
  • Amygdala / pathology
  • Autopsy
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Injury, Chronic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Demography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mesencephalon / microbiology
  • Mesencephalon / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitriles*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*


  • 2-(1-(6-((2-fluoroethyl)(methyl)amino)-2-naphthyl)ethylidene)malononitrile
  • Nitriles