Rabbit testes were injected with suspensions of Treponema pallidum, washed T pallidum, heat killed T pallidum, or Reiter treponemes. The testes were removed three to 24 days after injection and examined for the number of treponemes, the presence of treponemal antibodies, histopathological changes, and presence of T and B cells. In animals infected with T pallidum a substantial number (10(6)-10(7)/ml) of organisms were still present at day 24 in spite of early local production of antibodies and increasing infiltration with plasma cells, T lymphocytes, and macrophages. In animals infected with washed T pallidum a lower degree of inflammation was observed than in those infected with unmodified T pallidum, and the treponemal antibodies were detected simultaneously in samples of testicular fluid and serum. In the groups injected with heat killed T pallidum and Reiter treponemes no macroscopical or microscopical changes were detected, although in the group injected with heat killed T pallidum treponemal antibodies were detected in the testicular fluid on day 24.
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