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National Institutes of Health to study Junior Seau brain tissue

August 21, 2012 | 11:19 am

More photos: Junior Seau | 1969 - 2012

Although an initial autopsy showed no brain damage to deceased football star Junior Seau, tissue from his brain has been sent to the National Institutes of Health for more advanced evaluation, officials say.

Seau's autopsy report, released publicly Monday by the San Diego County medical examiner, did not list concussion or brain damage as factors in his death. Nor did Seau exhibit the mood changes and irritability often associated with concussions and brain damage.

Dr. Bennet Omalu, an expert in the preservation of brain tissue, was present at the autopsy to ensure specimens were kept for future study by the NIH. There was no word on when those studies might be completed.

PHOTOS: Junior Seau | 1969 - 2012

Seau was found dead in bed May 2 at his home in Oceanside from a gunshot to the chest from a .357 magnum revolver. His death was later declared a suicide.

The 6-foot-3, 275-pound Seau, a star at Oceanside High and USC and in the NFL, was taking prescription medicines for orthopedic problems and insomnia and was under the care of San Diego Chargers physician Dr. David Chao, according to investigative documents attached to the autopsy report.

Seau "had an unremarkable medical history" and had shown no "suicidal ideation or confirmed suicide attempt," wrote Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Craig Nelson.

Brain damage among football players due to concussion is a controversial issue in the National Football League, where Seau was a star for the Chargers and other teams.

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-- Tony Perry

Photo: Junior Seau was honored at a memorial service in May. Credit: Christina House / For The Times

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