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A quantitative study of tau pathology in 11 cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

AIMS: To quantify tau pathology of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and investigate influence of dot-like lesions (DL), brain region, comorbidity and sporting career length.

METHODS: Densities of neurofibrillary tangles (NFT), astrocytic tangles (AT), DL, oligodendroglial inclusions (GI), neuropil threads (NT), vacuoles, neurons and enlarged neurons (EN) were measured in tau-immunoreactive sections of upper cortical laminae of frontal and temporal lobes, hippocampus (HC), amygdala and substantia nigra (SN) in 11 cases of CTE.

RESULTS: DL were a consistent finding in CTE. Densities of NFT, NT and DL were greatest in sectors CA1 and CA2 of the HC. Densities of AT were lower than NFT, small numbers of GI were recorded in temporal lobe and low densities of vacuoles and EN were consistently present. β-Amyloid-containing neuritic plaques (NP) also occurred at low density. Densities of NFT, NT, DL and AT were greater in sulci than gyri, while vacuole density was greater in gyri. Principal components analysis (PCA) suggested that sporting career length and densities of NFT in entorhinal cortex, NT in CA2 and SN and vacuolation in the DG were significant sources of variation among cases.

CONCLUSION: DL are frequent in CTE suggesting affinity with argyrophilic grain disease (AGD) and Parkinson's disease dementia (PD-Dem). Densities of AT in all regions and NT/DL in sectors CA2/4 were consistent features of CTE. The 11 cases are neuropathologically heterogeneous which may result from genetic diversity, and variation in anatomical pathways subjected to trauma.

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