ABBREVIATIONS: ARC = American Red Cross; ARCBS = ARC Blood Services; FTA-ABS = fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption; RIT = rabbit infectivity test; RPR = rapid plasma reagin; STS = serologic tests for syphilis.
Prevalence of circulating Treponema pallidum DNA and RNA in blood donors with confirmed-positive syphilis tests
Article first published online: 5 MAR 2002
Volume 42, Issue 1, pages 94–99, January 2002
How to Cite
Orton, Sharyn L., Liu, H., Dodd, Roger Y., Williams, Alan E. and ARCNET Epidemiology Group (2002), Prevalence of circulating Treponema pallidum DNA and RNA in blood donors with confirmed-positive syphilis tests. Transfusion, 42: 94–99. doi: 10.1046/j.1537-2995.2002.00023.x
Supported in part by the Holland Laboratory through its financial contribution to ARCNET.
- Issue published online: 5 MAR 2002
- Article first published online: 5 MAR 2002
- Received for publication March 21, 2001; revision received July 30, 2001, and accepted August 7, 2001.
BACKGROUND: Although there have been no well-documented cases of transfusion-transmitted syphilis in more than 30 years, serologic tests for syphilis (STS) continues to be required for donated blood. Previously, the methods for detecting viable spirochetes were dependent on the use of the rabbit infectivity test. DNA PCR and RNA RT-PCR were applied to assess the presence of Treponema pallidum DNA or RNA in blood donors with confirmed-positive results in STS.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: This case series describes T. pallidum DNA and RNA testing of platelet concentrates prepared from blood donors with reactive results in an automated treponemal screening test and positive test results in the fluorescent treponomal antibody absorption test. The first DNA test was specific for the T. palladium polA gene. The second DNA test was a multiplex PCR using a T. pallidum 47-kDa gene target. The RT-PCR for RNA used T. pallidum 16S rRNA as a template for production of a cDNA target.
RESULTS: One hundred sixty-nine samples (including rapid plasma reagin [RPR]+ and RPR–) tested for T. pallidum DNA and/or RNA were negative.
CONCLUSIONS: A lack of demonstrable T. pallidum DNA or RNA suggests that blood donors with confirmed-positive results in STS are unlikely to have circulating T. pallidum in their blood and that that their blood is unlikely to be infectious for syphilis.