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Study finds a single brain injury may lead to Alzheimer's

A new study published in the July issue of the Journal of Neuroscience may leave those in Ohio that have experienced a traumatic brain injury while on the job a little more concerned about their long-term health. According to researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School, the effects of a moderate to severe brain injury can disrupt potentially crucial proteins and enzymes that have been connected to Alzheimer's disease.

The study examined the brains of mice two days after the animals had sustained any head trauma that could be graded as moderate to severe. Scientists observed a decline in the levels of two proteins: GGA1 and GGA3. Levels of an enzyme known as BACE1 saw an increase. This enzyme has been associated with Alzheimer's disease in previous studies.

When examining human patients with Alzheimer's, researchers found similar increases and decreases in the enzyme and the proteins to those seen in the mice. According to these findings, a moderate to severe brain injury can cause the proteins that moderate BACE1 to decline, potentially increasing the risk of an individual to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Though other studies have connected the aforementioned enzyme to Alzheimer's, this study does not. It also does not examine the long-term effects of an increased level of BACE1 so further research is likely necessary before any opinions are exclaimed as concrete facts.

Still, this should leave workers that work in dangerous industries such as construction concerned about protecting their heads. If an employer does not provide proper protection and an employee is injured because of this, the victim may be able to succeed in suing the company. Regardless, a workers' compensation claim should be made so that the employee can take time off to recover. Brain injuries are very risky and still rather mysterious to researchers so it is important take due care of yourself after experiencing one.

Source: Boston Globe, "Can one head injury lead to Alzheimer's?," Lara Salahi, July 30, 2012

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