Increased Interleukin-17 in Peripheral Blood and Cerebrospinal Fluid of Neurosyphilis Patients

Cuini Wang, Lin Zhu, Zixiao Gao, Zhifang Guan, Haikong Lu, Mei Shi, Ying Gao, Huanbin Xu, X. Frank Yang, Pingyu Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background:Treponema pallidum infection evokes vigorous immune responses, resulting in tissue damage. Several studies have demonstrated that IL-17 may be involved in the pathogenesis of syphilis. However, the role of Th17 response in neurosyphilis remains unclear.Methodology/Principal Findings:In this study, Th17 in peripheral blood from 103 neurosyphilis patients, 69 syphilis patients without neurological involvement, and 70 healthy donors were analyzed by flow cytometry. The level of IL-17 in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was quantified by ELISA. One-year follow up for 44 neurosyphilis patients was further monitored to investigate the role of Th17/IL-17 in neurosyphilis. We found that the frequency of Th17 cells was significantly increased in peripheral blood of patients with neurosyphilis, in comparison to healthy donors. IL-17 in CSF were detected from 55.3% neurosyphilis patients (in average of 2.29 (0-59.83) pg/ml), especially in those with symptomatic neurosyphilis (61.9%). CSF IL-17 was predominantly derived from Th17 cells in neurosyphilis patients. Levels of IL-17 in CSF of neurosyphilis patients were positively associated with total CSF protein levels and CSF VDRL (Venereal Disease Research Laboratory) titers. Notably, neurosyphilis patients with undetectable CSF IL-17 were more likely to confer to CSF VDRL negative after treatment.Conclusions:These findings indicate that Th17 response may be involved in central nervous system damage and associated with clinical symptoms in neurosyphilis patients. Th17/IL-17 may be used as an alternative surrogate marker for assessing the efficacy of clinical treatment of neurosyphilis patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3004
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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