Because sports activities are highly physical, athletes are particularly prone to
traumatic brain injury
(TBI). In recent years, research has suggested that some athletes experience
slow recovery times after TBI, with symptoms persisting for months or
even years. While investigating risk factors for slow recovery time, researchers
found that the presence of the apolipoprotein (APOE) allele in an individual’s
genotype is a predictor of persistent TBI symptoms.
A recent survey gauged college athletes’ interest in APOE genotyping
for determining an individual’s TBI recovery time. Eight hundred
and forty-seven members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association
were asked about their interest in genetic testing and genetic counseling.
About three quarters of the participants indicated interest in APOE testing,
and most said that receiving information about the relationship between
APOE and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) would make them more
open to testing.
After a TBI, it is important to understand individual risk factors for
prolonged recovery so that caregivers can create an appropriate treatment
plan for each patient. APOE genetic testing offers insight into these
risk factors, and student athletes’ interest in this procedure reflects
the promise and potential benefits of APOE testing for TBI patients.
Source: Hercher LS, Caudle M, Griffin J, et al. Student athletes’
views on APOE genotyping for increased risk of poor recovery after a traumatic
brain injury. Journal of Genetic Counseling. (April 2016)