Evaluation of the fluorescent treponemal antibody-absorption (FTA-Abs) test specificity

Acta Derm Venereol. 1991;71(4):306-11.


Serum samples from 43 patients with positive test for syphilis only in the FTA-Abs test, were evaluated. Three had primary or treated syphilis. Twenty-one (49%) had clinical and/or serological signs of Lyme borreliosis as assessed by whole-cell sonicate Borrelia burgdorferi ELISA and Western blot techniques. Seven (16%) had genital Herpes simplex infection and the remaining 12 patients, miscellaneous disorders. In control sera from 30 patients with Lyme borreliosis an isolated positive FTA-Abs reaction was found in 13 patients (43%). Elevated Borrelia ELISA titres were found in nine of 30 (30%) syphilitic patient serum samples, whereas Western blots for Borrelia were negative. Six per cent of healthy blood donors were seropositive for Borrelia. Lyme borreliosis is an important cause of cross-reactions in the FTA-Abs test. Other serological tests for syphilis and Western blot for Borrelia are useful for discrimination.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blotting, Western / methods
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / immunology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross Reactions / immunology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Treponemal Antibody-Absorption Test / standards*
  • Herpes Simplex / complications
  • Herpes Simplex / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / complications
  • Lyme Disease / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Syphilis / complications
  • Syphilis / diagnosis*