What are antibodies to treponema pallidum
The causative agent of syphilis, a serious sexually transmitted disease, is the pathogenic microorganism Treponema pallidum . This parasite easily penetrates the human body due to its special structure – it is a long thread with many curls that allow it to move quickly.
When examined under a microscope, you can see that it has a white color, for which it received two more names: pale treponema or pale spirochete.
Features of the infection process
Treponema pallidum – what is it? This is a special type of spirochete, which differs from its counterparts in a thinner structure, the movements of which resemble the rotation of a pendulum. Due to this, it quickly spreads through the internal organs of a person, destroying their cells and tissues.
The parasite is poorly adapted to life outside the human body; it dies under the influence of oxygen and dryness. In a humid environment, it develops well, increasing its colony twice every 34 hours.
An important role in the diagnosis of a bacterium is played by its color: a white tint allows it to be detected using laboratory tests based on the use of contrast dyes. Such methods of microscopy help to distinguish the spirochete from other, less dangerous of its counterparts, living mainly on the mucous membranes of the genital organs and in the oral cavity.
After entering the body, the bacterium does not manifest itself for a long time. This incubation period lasts up to several weeks. At the same time, infected men or women already pose a danger to others, tk. capable of transmitting the infection to others without even knowing it.
Another danger of the incubation period is that treatment is delayed, which means that the bacterium gets the opportunity to infect more and more tissues. At the end of incubation, pathogenic microorganisms are already firmly embedded in the cells of the epidermis, which is manifested by the development of purulent hard chancres and inflammation on the skin. This is the beginning of primary syphilis – the second stage of the disease.
The special characteristics of pale spirochetes include:
- the presence in the composition of the microorganism of proteins that make it easy to attach to all layers of the epidermis and be resistant to many groups of drugs;
- the thin and small body of the bacterium opens up the possibility for it to penetrate into the intercellular space, where the conditions for reproduction are optimal;
- cysts (larvae) deposited by the bacterium have a dense protective shell that protects them from death and includes a supply of nutrients. This allows them to lead a latent existence for a long time, waiting for favorable conditions for the activation of life processes.
As soon as the activity of the pathogen increases, the immune system will begin to produce antibodies to it, and this is a possible way to detect treponema in the blood.
In the latent state, when the natural defense is strong and does not allow the virus to be active, it is beyond the power of most screening studies to diagnose syphilis to determine the presence of an infection.
How does reproduction take place?
As soon as the incubation period ends, the pathogen begins to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and mucous membranes, destroying skin cells. This is how syphilitic ulcers are formed, the first external symptoms of syphilis – at the initial stage they are called hard chancres.
A chancre is an ulcerative formation with smooth edges, up to a centimeter in diameter, which has a dense purulent infiltrate inside. For the first time, their appearance is observed in the place where contact with the pathogen occurred.
The first chancres can be found on the hands, in the oral cavity, on the mucous membranes of the genital organs, incl. quite deep.
At the same time, antibodies begin to appear in the patient’s blood, because. the immune system has already turned on protective reactions to neutralize the virus. Skin rashes are quite a clear symptom of Lewis , but laboratory tests should confirm the diagnosis.
With their help, the type of pathogen is determined and the limitation period of the disease is established, i.e. stages of syphilis. This is required in order for the fight against the virus to be most effective.
Otherwise, the spirochete will continue its destructive activity, affecting the vital systems of the body: the heart and blood vessels, the spinal cord and brain, causing severe allergic reactions and neurological pathologies.
It is important to remove bacteria from the body in the early stages of the development of the disease. Secondary and tertiary syphilis are subject to therapy, but it is difficult, lengthy and not always successful.
Tests for syphilis
There are several studies that help identify antibodies. They are used at various stages of the disease. So, the primary diagnosis (preventive test) helps to identify the bacterium itself and control the ongoing therapy.
Such tests should be taken when registering for pregnancy and before childbirth (1.5-2 months in advance), when applying for a job, during annual medical examinations.
If the reaction is positive or weakly positive, additional tests will be required. Their task is to clarify the results of the previous examination and establish the norm if the diagnosis is confirmed.
In the course of treatment, these tests help track the dynamics of the decrease in antibodies. The third type of diagnosis is carried out two weeks after the completion of antibiotics. The result should be negative, which indicates that the therapy was carried out qualitatively.
Lifelong immunity to syphilis is not developed, so re-infection is possible. But, according to statistics, this happens extremely rarely, and it is easier to treat such patients.
Total antibody score
Often, after screening, the patient receives a referral for the delivery of antipallidum total antibodies – what is it? To determine the stage of the disease and the duration of the disease, antibodies should be counted. For this, class G immunoglobulins are counted separately.
Their number is a direct indicator of the stage of the disease, and they remain in the human body even after the treponema has been removed. If we are talking about congenital Lewis , class M immunoglobulins should be considered.
The total amount of these substances makes it possible to determine with high accuracy the period of infection and select medicines that will positively affect human health.
If the patient suffers from serious chronic pathologies (HIV infection, hepatitis, autoimmune diseases, diseases of the endocrine system), the diagnostic results may be inaccurate. In this case, the doctor prescribes several secondary tests, the results of which will complement each other.
The nuances of the analysis
The disadvantage of laboratory tests is the fact that they cannot be detected before the end of the incubation period, so the first screening test is carried out no earlier than three weeks after the alleged infection or after chancres began to appear.
The second feature of the assays: total antibodies to treponema pallidum remain positive throughout the year – what does this mean? The fact that it was possible to completely cleanse the body of the remnants of bacteria, but antibodies to them still remained.
Also, other types of pathogens can give such a reaction: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Giardia, etc., which increase activity in syphilis.
Research can give false results. Therefore, if a person is confident in his status, and the analysis gives the opposite result, it must be retaken a few days later.
Such “failures” often occur in patients with diabetes, oncology, pneumonia, gout, drug addicts and women in a delicate position.
Who should be tested for treponema?
Syphilis is a serious disease, for which intentional infection is criminalized. It is impossible to cope with it with folk methods and self-treatment; an individual antibiotic therapy regimen is required, which involves placing the patient in a hospital.
In order to prevent an outbreak of an epidemic, because Lewis is able to be transmitted by contact – household way, screening for treponema pale is indicated for:
- planning the conception of a baby and registering during pregnancy;
- leading a promiscuous intimate life;
- preparation for surgical interventions;
- donation of biological fluids as a donor.
Regular examinations are required for people who are in close contact with infected treponema: relatives, doctors, as well as people working in childcare facilities and catering establishments.