Antigens of Treponema pallidum recognized by IgG and IgM antibodies during syphilis in humans

J Infect Dis. 1985 Feb;151(2):264-72. doi: 10.1093/infdis/151.2.264.


IgG and IgM antibody specificities for antigens of Treponema pallidum Nichols strain were determined by using sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and the western blot technique in sera from patients with untreated syphilis, normal persons, persons with biologic false-positive tests for syphilis, and sexual contacts of persons with infectious syphilis. IgG reactivities of sera from individuals with primary syphilis varied considerably but consistently exhibited strong reactivity to a 48-kilodalton band. Sera from patients with secondary and early latent syphilis uniformly demonstrated reactivity to 22 separate polypeptide antigens; decreased reactivity was seen in late latent syphilis. Normal and biologic false-positive sera showed weak IgG reactivity against none to 12 polypeptides. Sera from asymptomatic contacts of persons with infectious syphilis showed reactivity to a varying number of treponemal antigens, including some reactions not seen with normal sera. IgM reactivity was most prominent in secondary syphilis but was demonstrable at all stages of disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / immunology
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology*
  • Syphilis / immunology*
  • Syphilis / transmission
  • Syphilis, Latent / immunology
  • Treponema pallidum / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M