+1 Recommend
0 collections
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      Laboratory Diagnostic Tools for Syphilis: Current Status and Future Prospects


      Read this article at

          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.


          With the increasing number of patients infected with syphilis in the past 20 years, early diagnosis and early treatment are essential to decline syphilis prevalence. Owing to its diverse manifestations, which may occur in other infections, the disease often makes clinicians confused. Therefore, a sensitive method for detecting T. pallidum is fundamental for the prompt diagnosis of syphilis. Morphological observation, immunohistochemical assay, rabbit infectivity test, serologic tests, and nucleic acid amplification assays have been applied to the diagnosis of syphilis. Morphological observation, including dark-field microscopy, silver-staining, and direct fluorescent antibody staining for T. pallidum, can be used as a direct detection method for chancre specimens in primary syphilis. Immunohistochemistry is a highly sensitive and specific assay, especially in the lesion biopsies from secondary syphilis. Rabbit infectivity test is considered as a sensitive and reliable method for detecting T. pallidum in clinical samples and used as a historical standard for the diagnosis of syphilis. Serologic tests for syphilis are widely adopted using non-treponemal or treponemal tests by either the traditional or reverse algorithm and remain the gold standard in the diagnosis of syphilis patients. In addition, nucleic acid amplification assay is capable of detecting T. pallidum DNA in the samples from patients with syphilis. Notably, PCR is probably a promising method but remains to be further improved. All of the methods mentioned above play important roles in various stages of syphilis. This review aims to provide a summary of the performance characteristics of detection methods for syphilis.

          Related collections

          Most cited references74

          • Record: found
          • Abstract: found
          • Article: found
          Is Open Access

          MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry: an emerging technology for microbial identification and diagnosis

          Currently microorganisms are best identified using 16S rRNA and 18S rRNA gene sequencing. However, in recent years matrix assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) has emerged as a potential tool for microbial identification and diagnosis. During the MALDI-TOF MS process, microbes are identified using either intact cells or cell extracts. The process is rapid, sensitive, and economical in terms of both labor and costs involved. The technology has been readily imbibed by microbiologists who have reported usage of MALDI-TOF MS for a number of purposes like, microbial identification and strain typing, epidemiological studies, detection of biological warfare agents, detection of water- and food-borne pathogens, detection of antibiotic resistance and detection of blood and urinary tract pathogens etc. The limitation of the technology is that identification of new isolates is possible only if the spectral database contains peptide mass fingerprints of the type strains of specific genera/species/subspecies/strains. This review provides an overview of the status and recent applications of mass spectrometry for microbial identification. It also explores the usefulness of this exciting new technology for diagnosis of diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
            • Record: found
            • Abstract: found
            • Article: not found

            Impact of 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis for identification of bacteria on clinical microbiology and infectious diseases.

            The traditional identification of bacteria on the basis of phenotypic characteristics is generally not as accurate as identification based on genotypic methods. Comparison of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequence has emerged as a preferred genetic technique. 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis can better identify poorly described, rarely isolated, or phenotypically aberrant strains, can be routinely used for identification of mycobacteria, and can lead to the recognition of novel pathogens and noncultured bacteria. Problems remain in that the sequences in some databases are not accurate, there is no consensus quantitative definition of genus or species based on 16S rRNA gene sequence data, the proliferation of species names based on minimal genetic and phenotypic differences raises communication difficulties, and microheterogeneity in 16S rRNA gene sequence within a species is common. Despite its accuracy, 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis lacks widespread use beyond the large and reference laboratories because of technical and cost considerations. Thus, a future challenge is to translate information from 16S rRNA gene sequencing into convenient biochemical testing schemes, making the accuracy of the genotypic identification available to the smaller and routine clinical microbiology laboratories.
              • Record: found
              • Abstract: found
              • Article: not found


              Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum ( T. pallidum ) causes syphilis via sexual exposure or vertical transmission during pregnancy . T. pallidum is renowned for its invasiveness and immune-evasiveness; its clinical manifestations result from local inflammatory responses to replicating spirochetes and often imitate those of other diseases. The spirochete has a long latent period during which patients have no signs or symptoms, but can remain infectious. Despite the availability of simple diagnostic tests and the effectiveness of treatment with a single dose of long-acting penicillin, syphilis is re-emerging as a global public health problem, particularly among men who have sex with men (MSM) in high-income and middle-income countries. Syphilis also causes several hundred thousand stillbirths and neonatal deaths every year in developing nations. Although several low-income countries have achieved WHO targets for the elimination of congenital syphilis, an alarming increase of syphilis in HIV-infected MSM serves as a strong reminder of the tenacity of T. pallidum as a pathogen. Strong advocacy and community involvement is needed to ensure that syphilis is given high priority on the global health agenda. More investment in research is needed on the interaction between HIV and syphilis in MSM, as well as into improved diagnostics, a better test of cure, intensified public health measures and, ultimately, a vaccine.

                Author and article information

                Front Cell Infect Microbiol
                Front Cell Infect Microbiol
                Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol.
                Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                08 February 2021
                : 10
                : 574806
                [1] Department of Clinical Laboratory, The Second Affiliated Hospital of University of South China , Hengyang, China
                Author notes

                Edited by: Alexandra Aubry, Sorbonne Universités, France

                Reviewed by: Allan Pillay, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States; Max Maurin, Université Grenoble Alpes, France

                *Correspondence: Yongjian Xiao, marlish@ 123456126.com ; Yafeng Xie, xieyafeng1989@ 123456163.com

                This article was submitted to Clinical Microbiology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology

                Copyright © 2021 Luo, Xie and Xiao

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 24 July 2020
                : 14 December 2020
                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 5, Equations: 0, References: 74, Pages: 12, Words: 6360
                Cellular and Infection Microbiology

                Infectious disease & Microbiology
                syphilis,laboratory diagnosis,immunohistochemistry,seroassay,nucleic acid amplification technique,polymerase chain reaction


                Comment on this article