Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League player (NOT OPEN ACCESS)
SUMMARY: This article goes into detail about the type of damage brain cells sustain after repeated hits in the head over a period of time (17-year career for some football players). By staining the brain tissue of deceased football players and looking at them under the microscope, Dr. Omalu saw an accumulation of proteins (amyloid plaque) around brain cells. Over time, as these proteins and protein fragments continue to build up in the brain, they can cause problems with behavior, memory, motor function, etc.
LESSON COMMENTS: There’s an interesting section at the end of this article that talks about people who inherit a certain version of the apolipoprotein. These people seem to be more susceptible to plaque formation. Teachers can introduce or reinforce the connection between protein function and genetics. This article is a real life example of how small changes in the genes can produce slightly different proteins that behave in wildly different ways.
B. I. Omalu, S. T. Dekosky, R. L. Minster, M. I. Kamboh, R. L. Hamilton, and C. H. Wecht, “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player,” Neurosurgery, vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 128–134, 2005.