Repository logo

Identical tau filaments in subacute sclerosing panencephalitis and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Published version

Repository DOI

Change log


Qi, Chao 
Hasegawa, Masato 
Takao, Masaki 
Sakai, Motoko 
Sasaki, Mayasuki 


Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) occurs in some individuals after measles infection, following a symptom-free period of several years. It resembles chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which happens after repetitive head impacts or exposure to blast waves, following a symptom-free period. As in CTE, the neurofibrillary changes of SSPE are concentrated in superficial cortical layers. Here we used electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) of tau filaments from two cases of SSPE to show that the tau folds of SSPE and CTE are identical. Two types of filaments were each made of two identical protofilaments with an extra density in the β-helix region. Like in CTE, the vast majority of tau filaments were Type I, with a minority of Type II filaments. These findings suggest that the CTE tau fold can be caused by different environmental insults, which may be linked by inflammatory changes.


Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the Electron Microscopy Facility of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. We thank Jake Grimmett, Toby Darling and Ivan Clayson for help with high-performance computing. We also thank Ms R. Otani for technical assistance and Professor B. Ghetti for helpful discussions. For the purpose of open access, the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.


Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Electron cryo-microscopy, Inflammation, Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, Tau, Humans, Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, Cytoskeleton

Journal Title

Acta Neuropathol Commun

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Medical Research Council (MC-UP-A025-1013, MC-U105184291)
Japan Science and Technology Agency (JPMJCR18H3)
Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (JP20dm0207072, JP21wm0425019)