J Clin Lab Anal 2019 Apr 2:e22890. Epub 2019 Apr 2.
Institute of Pathogenic Biology and Key Laboratory of Special Pathogen Prevention and Control of Hunan Province, Collaborative Innovation Center for New Molecular Drug Research, University of South China, Hengyang, China.
Syphilis, a re-emerging public health problem worldwide caused by Treponema pallidum subsp pallidum (T. pallidum), usually induces systemic and chronic inflammation in hosts who do not receive timely therapy after exposing to high-risk factors such as leprous sexual contact. Before the treatment, rapid and accurate detection of syphilis is essential. However, the existing detection methods, which focus on the treponemal or non-treponemal antibody test, both have inherent limitations. For instance, both of them cannot distinguish the stage and severity of syphilis. Non-treponemal test such as RPR, which is generally deemed to be used for assessing treatment response, is influenced by biological false positives. Therefore, it is imperative to seek out a new and effective diagnostic test. With recent advancements in molecular biology and whole-genome sequencing, the molecular diagnosis has increased in popularity, especially the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Here, we firstly present a mini-review on the research of PCR detection methods used for syphilis diagnosis over the past decade, and we then compare these methodologies to assess their potential and the challenges faced. This information can provide a fresh perspective to help researchers address the current challenges.