With sports camps starting up again, many schools are putting measures in place to prevent concussions. But what if some people are just genetically predisposed to getting them? Ryan Tierney, a professor of kinesiology at Temple University, has been studying the genes of college athletes to figure out whether this is the case.
Last year, he published a study which suggested a link between multiple concussions and a variant in the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype, which is responsible for helping neurons heal themselves. Among the 200 plus athletes studied, about 9 reported having had more than one concussion; of those, 8 had this specific APOE variant.
"If an athlete receives multiple head impacts, their brain cells to need to deal with the mechanical stress. Theoretically, athletes who have certain genotypes may be less capable of dealing with the mechanical stress than others, putting them at greater risk of injury," said Tierney. "For non-athletes, this variant isn't as important, but for athletes, their environment is everything."
Tierney and his research team are currently studying factors associated with concussion occurrence and recovery in high school and collegiate athletes.