Amplification of the DNA polymerase I gene of Treponema pallidum from whole blood of persons with syphilis

Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2001 Aug;40(4):163-6. doi: 10.1016/s0732-8893(01)00275-9.


Previous reports suggest that Treponema pallidum bacteremia occurs in persons with syphilis exposure ('incubating syphilis') and in persons with primary or secondary syphilis. During a recent syphilis outbreak, whole blood samples from 32 persons with suspected syphilis or syphilis exposure were screened using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify the DNA polymerase I gene (polA) of T. pallidum. Of the 32 samples, polA was amplified from 13 (41%). Of these 13, three were determined to have incubating syphilis; two had primary or secondary syphilis and eight had latent syphilis. This study demonstrates that spirochetemia can occur throughout the course of T. pallidum infection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • DNA Polymerase I / chemistry
  • DNA Polymerase I / genetics
  • DNA Polymerase I / isolation & purification*
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Female
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Syphilis / blood
  • Syphilis / diagnosis*
  • Syphilis / epidemiology
  • Syphilis / microbiology
  • Treponema pallidum / enzymology
  • Treponema pallidum / genetics
  • Treponema pallidum / isolation & purification*


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA Polymerase I