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Molecular typing of Treponema pallidum strains from patients with neurosyphilis in Pretoria, South Africa
  1. J Molepo1,
  2. A Pillay2,
  3. B Weber1,
  4. S A Morse2,
  5. A A Hoosen1
  1. 1Department of Microbiological Pathology, Medunsa Campus, University of Limpopo, Pretoria, South Africa; National Health Laboratory Services, Microbiology Laboratory, Dr George Mukhari Hospital, GaRankuwa, Pretoria, South Africa
  2. 2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr A Pillay
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of STD Prevention, Laboratory Reference & Research Branch, 1600 Clifton Road, MS-G39, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA;apillay{at}


Objective: To evaluate the molecular typing system for Treponema pallidum using cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimens obtained from patients with neurosyphilis in Pretoria, South Africa.

Methods: CSF specimens were collected from 32 men and 18 women with suspected late neurosyphilis. Typing of T pallidum involved PCR amplification and restriction analysis of the tprE, G and J genes and determination of the number of 60 base pair tandem repeats within the arp gene by PCR amplification.

Results: Of 13 typeable specimens, 4 strain types were identified: 2i, 3e, 14a and 17e. Subtype 14a was identified in 7 specimens (53.8%), subtype 3e in 4 specimens (30.7%) and subtypes 17e and 2i in 1 specimen (7.6%) each.

Conclusions: This study shows that the typing system can be applied to specimens which may contain low numbers of spirochaetes such as CSF.

  • bp, base pair
  • CSF, cerebrospinal fluid
  • FTA-ABS, fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption
  • RFLP, restriction fragment length polymorphism
  • STI, sexually transmitted disease
  • VDRL, Venereal Disease Research Laboratory

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  • Published Online First 23 January 2007

  • Competing interests: None.

  • The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Contributors: JM was the PI for the study and the lead author for the paper; AH and BW contributed to the design of the study and supervised the project; AP edited and prepared the manuscript for submission and all authors contributed to the write up.