What is the role of nontreponemal tests in the workup of treponematosis?

Updated: Oct 17, 2019
  • Author: Steven M Fine, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: John L Brusch, MD, FACP  more...
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These include the nontreponemal rapid plasma reagin (RPR) test and the Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) test. These tests usually become positive within 2-4 weeks of the appearance of the primary lesion. They can be used as tests of cure because they usually become negative after treatment.

RPR is inexpensive and rapid and is convenient for screening large numbers of sera specimens.

The standard nontreponemal test is the VDRL slide test, in which serum is tested for its ability to flocculate a suspension of cardiolipin-cholesterol-lecithin antigen. This test is based on the observation that antibodies elicited against treponemal surface antigens cross-react with cardiolipin.

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