Immunity in syphilis

Correlation of the humoral and cellular immune responses with clinical manifestations of the disease in both natural and experimental infection seems to favor a cellular rather than a humoral mechanism in the acquisition of immunity, as deduced from the following information: 1) primary and secondary syphilis progresses despite a profuse humoral response; 2) passive immunization with immune serum has had only limited success; 3) immunization with killed T. pallidum does not protect recipients despite development of antibodies; 4) delayed hypersensitivity appears late in the course of infection:

5) tertiary lesions have a granulomatous appearance;

6) lasting immunity has been induced in animals only by infection with live or immunization with y-irradiated T. pallidum; 7) adoptive transfer of 7. pal-lidum-immune T lymphocytes into syngeneic naive recipients prevented the development of lesions after challenge and the hematogenous dissemination of T. pallidum, providing a longlasting protection against reinfection; 8) treponemal antibodies, i.e. TPI antibodies, are not associated with the protective mechanism(s) operative after challenge in adoptively immune animals.

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