Hormone Therapy for TBI?
Estrone, one of three naturally occurring estrogen hormones in the body, has shown promise in reducing inflammation and cell death in the brain after an injury. Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern conducted a study on male rats who had suffered from brain injury. Half the rats were given 0.5 mg of estrone 30 minutes after injury; estrone is involved in promoting brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which promotes cell survival.
"BDNF, one of the main growth factors that regulates repair following injury, is actually increased following treatment with estrone after brain injury," said lead researcher Joshua Gatson, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. The findings of the research were presented in April during Experimental Biology 2012 in San Diego.
Stem Cells for Brain Repair
Swedish researchers have discovered a new stem cell in the adult brain that has the ability to form new brain cells. They hope this new finding can lead the way to develop new methods to heal and repair disease and injury in the brain.
Researchers analyzed brain tissue from biopsies and found the stem cells located around the small blood vessels in the brain. Next steps will include trying to control and enhance the stem cells' self-healing properties, with the aim of carrying out targeted therapies to specific areas of the brain.
"Our findings show that the cell capacity is much larger than we originally thought and that these cells are very versatile," said primary author Gesine Paul-Visse, associate professor of neuroscience at Lund University in Sweden. "Most interesting is their ability to form neuronal cells, but they can also be developed for other cell types."
Point of No Return
There comes a point in contact sports when repeated head trauma can result in chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which affects memory and thinking abilities.
In a study that reveals this pattern, researchers followed 35 boxers and 43 mixed martial arts athletes (average age: 29) who were part of the ongoing Professional Fighters Brain Health Study. Participants took computer tests that measured memory and thinking skills and underwent MRI brain scans. The researchers recorded participants' years of fighting and number of fights and divided them into two groups: those who fought for nine or fewer years and those who fought for more than nine years.
In both groups, those with more years of fighting and more fights per year were more likely to have lower brain volumes in three areas of the brain. In those with fewer than nine years of fighting, there was no relationship between the years of fighting or the number of fights per year and the results on memory and thinking tests. But for those who had fought for nine or more years, those with more fights per year performed worse on the thinking and memory tests than those with fewer fights per year.
"Our study shows there appears to be a threshold at which continued repetitive blows to the brain begin to cause measurable changes in memory and thinking, despite brain volume changes that can be found earlier," said study author Charles Bernick of the Cleveland Clinic.
The research was presented at the April annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (search "Bernick" at the American Academy of Neurology's website).