Neurodegenerative diseases characterized by cytoskeletal deformation and neurofibrillary tangles are associated with altered levels of tau and related proteins in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Neuronal or glial fibrillary tangles have been shown in 20% of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) patients. We therefore investigated CSF samples from 60 newly diagnosed SSPE and 31 neurological control patients for total tau (t-tau), phosphorylated tau (p-tau), and S100-B levels by ELISA. There was no difference between patient and control groups in t-tau and S100-B levels, p-Tau was lower in the SSPE group (p = 0.009). Past history of measles infection, measles immunization status, latent period between measles and onset of SSPE, duration of symptoms, frequency of myoclonia, neurological deficit index, stage and progression rate of the disease, CSF glucose levels and cell counts, CSF and serum measles IgG titer, distribution of lesions on brain magnetic resonance imaging were not related to t-tau, p-tan and S100-B levels. Mental status and age were negatively correlated with t-tau, and male gender and EEG abnormalities were associated with higher t-tau levels. The levels of tau proteins in our patients suggest there is no, or only scarce and immature, neurofibrillary tangle formation in SSPE. Autopsy studies showing neurofibrillary tangles might have examined older patients with longer disease and more parenchymal involvement. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.