Human intestinal spirochetosis in Japan; its incidence, clinicopathologic features, and genotypic identification

Mod Pathol. 2008 Feb;21(2):76-84. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.3800987. Epub 2007 Dec 14.


Human intestinal spirochetosis is a common condition in Western countries, but is not well recognized in Japan. To demonstrate the incidence and clinicopathologic findings of human intestinal spirochetosis in Japan, we retrospectively investigated biopsy, and endoscopically or surgically resected specimens of the large intestine. Among a series of 2556 samples, 11 cases of human intestinal spirochetosis were detected (0.4%). Together with additional nine cases sporadically found, 20 cases of human intestinal spirochetosis were subjected to molecular detection of two strains of spirochetes (Brachyspira aalborgi and Brachyspira pilosicoli) by amplifying species-specific portion of 16S ribosomal RNA and NADH oxydase gene by polymerase chain reaction. B. aalborgi was detected in all cases examined, three of which revealed dual infection of both species. Our results suggest that human intestinal spirochetosis infection is relatively rare, and B. aalborgi is the most prevalent species in Japan. Most of human intestinal spirochetosis were asymptomatic, although symptomatic in exceptional cases. In addition, we emphasize a usefulness of immunostaining with anti-Treponema pallidum and anti-Mycobacterium bovis polyclonal antibodies for detecting the spirochetes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Brachyspira / genetics*
  • Brachyspira / isolation & purification
  • Brachyspira / ultrastructure
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Incidence
  • Intestinal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Intestinal Diseases / microbiology
  • Intestinal Diseases / pathology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Intestine, Large / microbiology
  • Intestine, Large / pathology*
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multienzyme Complexes / genetics
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Spirochaetales Infections / epidemiology*
  • Spirochaetales Infections / microbiology
  • Spirochaetales Infections / pathology*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • NADH oxidase
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases