Serological Response Predicts Normalization of Cerebrospinal Fluid Abnormalities at Six Months after Treatment in HIV-Negative Neurosyphilis Patients

Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 30;7(1):9911. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-10387-x.


This study aimed to determine whether a serological response could predict the normalization of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) abnormalities at 6 months after treatment in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-negative neurosyphilis patients. A total of 123 neurosyphilis patients were recruited at baseline, 58 of these patients undergoing treatment, repeated CSF examinations and serological tests for syphilis at 6 months after treatment were included in the follow-up study. Before treatment, the CSF rapid plasma reagin (RPR) titer, CSF Treponema pallidum particle agglutination (TPPA) titer, CSF leukocyte count, and CSF protein concentration were correlated with both serum RPR and TPPA titers. At 6 months after treatment, 28 and nine patients achieved serological responses of RPR and TPPA tests, respectively. The sensitivities of the serological response of RPR and TPPA tests for identifying the normalization of CSF abnormalities were 60.0∼83.3% and 17.1~22.2%, respectively; and 75.0∼91.3% of patients showing serological response of RPR test also achieved CSF normalization, suggesting that the serological response could predict CSF normalization to some degree. Particularly, in patients with ≥8-fold decreases in the serum RPR titer, the CSF RPR, CSF leukocyte count, and CSF protein concentration had normalized, and follow-up lumbar puncture could be reduced considering the resolution of neurological symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Ceftriaxone / therapeutic use
  • Doxycycline / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies / drug effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurosyphilis / blood*
  • Neurosyphilis / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Neurosyphilis / drug therapy
  • Penicillins / therapeutic use*
  • Serologic Tests / methods
  • Syphilis Serodiagnosis / methods
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Treponema pallidum / drug effects*
  • Treponema pallidum / physiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Penicillins
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Doxycycline