Background: The possible injurious effect to the brain of heading in soccer is a matter of discussion. Objective: To determine whether standardised headings in soccer are associated with elevated levels of biochemical markers for neuronal injury in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and serum.
Methods: A total of 23 male amateur soccer players took part in a heading training session involving heading a ball kicked from a distance of 30 m at least 10 m forward. Ten players performed 10 and 13 players performed 20 approved headings. The players underwent lumbar puncture (LP) and serum sampling 7-10 days after the headings. The study also included 10 healthy male non-athletic control individuals. CSF was analysed for neurofilament light protein (NF-L), total tau (T-tau), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), S-100B, and albumin concentrations. Serum was analysed for S-100B and albumin.
Results: None of the biomarker levels were abnormal and there were no significant differences between any of the three groups, except for a slightly elevated CSF S-100B concentration in controls compared with headers. Biomarker levels did not correlate to the number of headings performed.
Conclusion: Repeated low severity head impacts due to heading in soccer are not associated with any neurochemical signs of injury to the brain.
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