Objectives Recent studies suggested that upregulation of anti-inflammatory immune response during early syphilis may be associated with persistence of Treponema pallidum infection despite adequate treatment, resulting in a serofast state. The objective of this study was to determine whether enhanced interleukin (IL)-10-related response during early T. pallidum infection increased the risk of serofast syphilis.
Methods Two IL10 gene promoter polymorphisms affecting IL-10 production (−1082A>G [rs1800896], −592C>A [rs1800872]) and serum levels of IL-10 were measured in 80 patients with early syphilis before and 6 months after penicillin treatment and in 24 healthy volunteers (control group).
Results After 6 months, patients were stratified based on serological response into two groups: (1) serofast state (n = 28) and (2) serologically cured (n = 52). Pretreatment and post-treatment serum IL-10 levels were significantly higher in patients who remained serofast compared with those who had a serological cure (p<0.001). The GG genotype of the −1082A>G (rs1800896) polymorphism and the CC genotype of the −592C>A (rs1800872) polymorphism were significantly correlated with higher serum IL-10 levels. Moreover, the OR for remaining serofast for carriers of these genotypes was 16.2 (95% CI: 4.1 to 65.0, p<0.0001) and 2.9 (95% CI: 1.4 to 5.9, p=0.002), respectively.
Conclusions We showed that a pronounced anti-inflammatory immune response may be an important predictor for the serofast state. Additionally, host-related factors such as polymorphisms of immune regulatory genes may influence the risk of remaining serofast after syphilis therapy.
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Handling editor Dr Khalil G Ghanem
Contributors MP and BJ contributed to the conception and design of the study, wrote and drafted the manuscript and were involved in critical revision of the manuscript. MP and AW-P recruited the patients and performed statistical analysis. AW-P contributed to the critical revision of the manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval Jagiellonian University Bioethics Committee (approval number KBET/164/B).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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