Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy as a Biomarker for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

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Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease associated with exposure to repetitive head impacts (RHI). Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed after death by postmortem, as validated in vivo biomarkers of CTE do not yet exist. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) measures brain tissue metabolism in vivo and could facilitate a “probable CTE” diagnosis during life. Here, we propose MRS as one potential biomarker for CTE through a review of CTE neuropathology, and the extant literature that has examined the acute and long-term effects of RHI exposure on brain chemistry. There is preliminary empirical support for MRS in the detection of later-life neurological impairment associated with RHI exposure, but further ante- and postmortem research is needed before MRS can be considered a diagnostic biomarker for CTE.

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