Resolution of serum and cerebrospinal fluid abnormalities after treatment of neurosyphilis. Influence of concomitant human immunodeficiency virus infection

Sex Transm Dis. 1996 May-Jun;23(3):184-9. doi: 10.1097/00007435-199605000-00005.


Background and objectives: Little is known about resolution of serum and cerebrospinal fluid abnormalities after neurosyphilis treatment, especially in patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Goal: To examine the time course of resolution of these abnormalities.

Study design: Case series of 22 patients with neurosyphilis (13 infected with HIV) with reactive cerebrospinal fluid Venereal Disease Research Laboratory test who underwent at least one lumbar puncture after treatment.

Results: Resolution of all serum and cerebrospinal fluid measures was slower in patients infected with HIV. Serum and cerebrospinal fluid abnormalities resolved in most patients not infected with HIV by 30 weeks, and all met Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for cure. One patient infected with HIV failed therapy by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, and three others had persistent pleocytosis.

Conclusions: HIV-infected patients with neurosyphilis have slower resolution of serum and cerebrospinal fluid abnormalities after therapy. This observation may suggest impaired clearance of Treponema pallidum from the central nervous system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Proteins / cerebrospinal fluid
  • HIV Infections / blood*
  • HIV Infections / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Neurosyphilis / blood*
  • Neurosyphilis / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Neurosyphilis / complications
  • Neurosyphilis / drug therapy
  • Penicillins / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Treponema pallidum / immunology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Proteins
  • Penicillins