Figure 1. Brain on the battlefield. Research published in Science Translational Medicine by scientists at the Boston University School of Medicine has shown that a single concussive air blast is sufficient to generate signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in mice.

The model was designed to mimic the situation of a soldier experiencing a shock wave from a nearby bomb blast on a battlefield.

Although the blast did not kill the mouse [a], it generated enough force to accelerate the mouse's head [b] and cause phosphorylation of microtubule-associated protein-t (MAPT; TAU; FTDP-17) as well as damage at the cellular level [c-e], including neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration [f,g]. That damage was associated with significant cognitive impairment [h,i], a hallmark of CTE.