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Maeva Dhaynaut, PhD




Research Fellow




Research Fellow




Maeva Dhaynaut1^, Rachel Grashow2,3^, Dean Marengi Jr.3, Marc D. Normandin1, Justin S. Sanchez1,4, Michael Doyle3, Marc Weisskopf2,3, Frank Speizer2,3, Nicolas J. Guehl1, Sudha Seshadri5, Ann Connor6, Keith Johnson1,4, Ona Wu7, Ross Zafonte3,8, Grant L. Iverson3,8,9, Georges El Fakhri1°, Aaron Baggish3,10°

Tau aggregation in American-style football players exposed to repetitive head injury measured by positron emission tomography.

A significant gender gap has persisted throughout the years at all levels of medicine and science and most scientific research use male as the norm. Even though women have made huge progress towards gender equality, they are still under-represented in these fields. For this reason, it is important for me to show how a woman can work in science and medical field and lead crucial research projects. Our project on American professional former players studying tauopathies by Positron Emission Tomography imaging is representative of this problem as this NFL sport and our scientific study are male only.

Background: American-style professional football players are exposed to repetitive head impacts, putting them at potential risk of pathological p-Tau protein aggregation. We sought to validate previous positron emission tomography (PET) imaging findings showing increased p-Tau uptake in former professional football players compared to control subjects and investigate relationships between football exposure and p-Tau deposition.

Methods: We recruited 27 former professional football players who underwent imaging on a GE Discovery MI PET/CT scanner using [11C]-PiB for amyloid-β and [18F]-FTP for p-Tau. Reference region-based analysis was performed to quantify standardized uptake value ratios (SUVr) using the cerebellum non vermis as reference. We compared these former players with a male convenience sample of 11 age-matched control subjects.

Results: No meaningful p-Tau or amyloid-β PET tracer uptake differences were seen between former football players and controls. However, a significant association between total years of professional football and p-Tau tracer uptake in entorhinal cortex (p<0.05) was identified after adjusting for age, race, and football position.

Conclusions: No significant differences were seen between p-Tau tracer uptake in football players compared to controls. Future studies should explore tau-relevant tracer uptake in areas associated with aging and AD using next-generation tracers with better in vivo specificity.