People with brain injuries from trauma to the head may have a buildup of the same plaques seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease in their brains, a small, new study suggests. Moreover, the areas of the brain where the plaques were found in people with brain injuries overlapped with the areas where plaques are usually found in people with Alzheimer’s. However, the people with the brain injuries also had plaques in some other brain areas, the researchers said.
“People, after a head injury, are more likely to develop dementia, but it isn’t clear why,” study co-author David Sharp, a neurology professor at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. “Our findings suggest that TBI leads to the development of the plaques which are a well-known feature of Alzheimer’s disease.”
The researchers found that both the people with brain injuries and the people with Alzheimer’s disease had plaques in a brain area called the posterior cingulate cortex, which is affected in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. However, only the people with brain injuries had plaques in the brain’s cerebellum, according to the study, published today (Feb. 3) in the journal Neurology. Moreover, the buildup of the plaques was greater in the patients with brain injuries who had more damage to the brain’s white matter, the researchers found.