Evolving concepts of chronic traumatic encephalopathy as a neuropathological entity

Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2017 Oct;43(6):467-476. doi: 10.1111/nan.12425.


Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a long-term neurodegenerative consequence of repetitive head impacts which can only be definitively diagnosed in post-mortem. Recently, the consensus neuropathological criteria for the diagnosis of CTE was published requiring the presence of the accumulation of abnormal tau in neurons and astroglia distributed around small blood vessels at the depths of cortical sulci in an irregular pattern as the mandatory features. The clinical diagnosis and antemortem prediction of CTE pathology remain challenging if not impossible due to the common co-existing underlying neurodegenerative pathologies and the lack of specific clinical pointers and reliable biomarkers. This review summarizes the historical evolution of CTE as a neuropathological entity and highlights the latest advances and future directions of research studies on the topic of CTE.

Keywords: chronic traumatic encephalopathy; concussion; repetitive head impact; tauopathy; traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Astrocytes / pathology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy / complications
  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy / diagnosis
  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy / metabolism
  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy / pathology*
  • Encephalitis / complications
  • Humans
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Risk Factors
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • MAPT protein, human
  • tau Proteins