Syphilis reinfection is associated with an attenuated immune profile in the same individual: a prospective observational cohort study

Chris Kenyon, Kara Krista Osbak, Tania Crucitti, Luc Kestens

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article

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BACKGROUND: Ascertaining if the clinical and immunological response to repeat syphilis differs from that in initial syphilis may assist in designing optimal syphilis screening strategies and vaccine design.

METHODS: We prospectively recruited 120 patients with a new diagnosis of (baseline) syphilis. During a 24-month follow-up period, 11 of these patients had a further diagnosis of (repeat) syphilis. We conducted a paired comparison of their plasma cyto-chemokines at baseline and repeat syphilis.

RESULTS: Comparing to their baseline infection, paired analyses of the 11 individuals with repeat infections during follow-up revealed that these reinfections had lower concentrations of Interferon (IFN)α (0.8 [Interquartile range (IQR) 0.8-0.8 vs. 12.2 [IQR 1.6-24.2], P = 0.004) and Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand (CCL) 4 (0.9 [IQR 0.9-12.2 vs. 17.5 [IQR 4.9-32.8], P = 0.022].

CONCLUSION: In this small study of 11 individuals, repeat syphilis was found to present with an attenuated immune response. The relevance of these findings to the design of optimal syphilis screening programs is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number479
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Syphilis
  • Immunology
  • Repeat
  • Screening
  • Cytokine
  • SKIN
  • MEN
  • TH1

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