Tests for treponemal antibody in CSF

Arch Intern Med. 1978 Feb;138(2):252-5.


We studied the potential usefulness of CSF treponemal tests in the diagnosis of neurosyphillis. The CSF was tested with the microhemagglutination test for Treponema pallidum (CSF-MHA-TP test) and with the CSF-FTA test by using undiluted CSF and CSF diluted in saline and in sorbent. In a prospective evaluation, of 177 nonsyphilitics, none had reactive CSF-MHA-TP tests and only one had a reactive CSF-FTA test. However, five of 15 syphilitics with no other evidence of neurosyphilis had reactive CSF-FTA tests. The CSF-FTA test reactivity appeared most likely when the titer of the serum FTA test was high. In a retrospective evaluation of syphilitics with reactive CSF-FTA tests, similar patterns of reactivity occurred in patients with and without other evidence of neurosyphilis. Without other supporting clinical or laboratory data, the diagnostic value of a reactive CSF-FTA test is unknown.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / immunology
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Hemagglutination Tests / methods
  • Humans
  • Neurosyphilis / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Neurosyphilis / immunology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Syphilis Serodiagnosis / methods*
  • Syphilis, Latent / diagnosis
  • Treponema pallidum / immunology


  • Antibodies