What is the role of head trauma in the etiology of Alzheimer disease (AD)?

Updated: May 09, 2019
  • Author: Shaheen E Lakhan, MD, PhD, MS, MEd; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
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Moderate to severe head trauma has been documented as a risk factor for the development of AD as well as other forms of dementia later in life. [54] Chen et al have proposed that traumatic brain injury leads to accumulation of amyloid precursor protein with its proteolytic enzymes at sites of axonal injury, increased intracellular production of Ab, release of Ab from injured axons into the extracellular space, and deposition of Ab into extracellular plaques. [55]

A study that followed over 7,000 US veterans of World War II showed that those who had sustained head injuries had twice the risk of developing dementia later in life, with veterans who suffered more severe head trauma being at an even higher risk. The study also found that the presence of the APOE gene and sustaining head trauma seemed to act additively to increase the risk of developing AD, although there was no direct correlation. [56]

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