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Pathology of Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis

Dr Sampurna Roy MD 




Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis was first described by Dawson in 1934.   

It is a rare, slowly progressive neurological disorder caused by the persistent infection with measles virus.

Related post: Measles 

Age: Children and young adults.


The gross changes are usually mild. Cortical atrophy, demyelination and ventricular dilatation may be present.

Microscopic features: 

The pathologic findings in Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis are those of a subacute encephalitis involving the white and gray matter of the cerebral hemisphere and the brainstem ; 

There are inclusion bodies in oligodendroglia, neurons and astrocytes ;

Perivascular lymphocytic infiltrates ;

Evidence of neuronal loss ;

In later stages diffuse proliferations of glial cells and degeneration of myelin occur.

Electron microscopy:

Inclusions are seen to contain tubular paramyxovirus-like nucleocapsids. 


Further reading:

Full-Length Sequence Analysis of Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE) Virus, a Mutant of Measles Virus, Isolated from Brain Tissues of a Patient Shortly after Onset of SSPE.

Measles viral load may reflect SSPE disease progression.

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis: Is there something different in the younger children?

Adult-onset subacute sclerosing panencephalitis: clinicopathological findings.

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis in the differential diagnosis of encephalitis.

Fulminating adult-onset subacute sclerosing panencephalitis in a 49-year-old man.  

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE).



Dr Sampurna Roy  MD

Consultant  Histopathologist (Kolkata - India)






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