Limited protection of rabbits against infection with Treponema pallidum by immune rabbit sera

Br J Vener Dis. 1979 Dec;55(6):399-403. doi: 10.1136/sti.55.6.399.


After intradermal infection of rabbits with 3 x 10(6) Treponema pallidum (Melbourne 1 strain) samples of serum were taken at one, two, three, four, and six months after infection. Normal rabbits were passively immunised with these sera, challenged with intradermal doses (10(4), 10(3), 10(2), 10) of T. pallidum, and the latent periods of infection, lesion diameters, and the number of inoculation sites developing into lesions were observed. The sera taken at three, four, and six months reduced the number of intradermal inoculation sites that developed into syphilitic lesions after challenge with 10 T. pallidum. These same three sera also increased the latent period of infection after challenge with 10(4) T. pallidum. The transfer of 50 ml of immune serum per rabbit over a nine-day period before challenge had very little effect on the course of the challenge infection. Only a low level of immunity in rabbits to this strain of T. pallidum appears to be mediated by immune serum but this small degree of protection did increase with time after infection. Enhanced growth of T. pallidum in the serum-recipient rabbits did not occur, thus suggesting that none of the sera was immunosuppressive.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / biosynthesis
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Immune Sera
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Rabbits
  • Syphilis / prevention & control*
  • Treponema pallidum / immunology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immune Sera