Evaluation of Western immunoblotting technique in the serological diagnosis of human syphilitic infections

Eur J Epidemiol. 1989 Mar;5(1):22-30. doi: 10.1007/BF00145040.


Purified human syphilitic antibodies against both 15.5 Kd and 45 Kd treponemal antigens appear T. pallidum specific and do not cross react with antigens possessed by other treponemes (T. phagedenis, T. hyodysenteriae and a human intestinal treponeme). By using Western immunoblotting technique, 107 out of 110 syphilitic patients and 291 out of 294 subjects with serologically positive diagnostic tests for syphilis were found to have in their sera antibodies against a 15.5 Kd specific antigen of T. pallidum. These antibodies were present in 100% of the patient with secondary or early latent syphilis, both untreated and treated, in 98.24% of those with late latent treated syphilis and in 100% of patients with neurosyphilis. On the contrary, they were absent in 47 patients with false positive reactions for syphilis and in 121 healthy blood donors. For these reasons, the demonstration of these kind of antibodies in a patient's serum can be considered of high value in differentiating syphilitic patients from non infected individuals.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Blotting, Western / methods*
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Syphilis / immunology
  • Syphilis Serodiagnosis / methods*
  • Treponema / immunology
  • Treponema pallidum / immunology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Epitopes