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Contact Sports Linked with Lewy Body Pathology

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol; ePub 2018 Jul 25; Adams, et al

Contact sports participation may increase risk of developing neocortical Lewy body disease (LBD), and increased LBD frequency may partially explain extrapyramidal motor symptoms sometimes observed in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This according to a recent study that aimed to test whether contact sports and CTE are associated with LBD. Researchers compared deceased contact sports athletes (n=269) to cohorts from the community (n=164) and the Boston University Alzheimer Disease (AD) Center (n=261). They found:

  • Participants with CTE and LBD were more likely to have β-amyloid deposition, dementia, and parkinsonism than CTE alone.
  • Traditional and hierarchical clustering showed a similar pattern of LBD distribution in CTE compared to LBD alone that was most frequently neocortical, limbic, or brainstem.
  • In the community-based cohort, years of contact sports play were associated with neocortical LBD, and in a pooled analysis a threshold of >8 years of play best predicted neocortical LBD, adjusting for age, sex, and APOE ɛ4 allele status.
  • Clinically, dementia was significantly associated with neocortical LBD, CTE stage, and AD; parkinsonism was associated with LBD pathology but not CTE stage.


Adams JW, Alvarez VE, Mez J, et al. Lewy body pathology and chronic traumatic encephalopathy associated with contact sports. [Published online ahead of print July 25, 2018]. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. doi:10.1093/jnen/nly065.

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