A Dual-Platform Point-of-Care Test for Neurosyphilis Diagnosis

Hemil Gonzalez*, Igor Jerome Koralnik, Gregory D. Huhn, Lauren C. Tantalo, Ethan M. Ritz, Zachary Orban, Christina M. Marra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background The diagnosis of neurosyphilis relies on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) abnormalities (pleocytosis, elevated protein) and CSF-Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) test. In resource-limited settings, the CSF-VDRL test may not be widely available. Methods We optimized a commercial immunochromatographic strip test, the DPP Chembio syphilis assay, for performance with CSF and tested centrifuged CSF samples of 71 patients with syphilis (35 with neurosyphilis and 36 without neurosyphilis). A CSF dilution of 1:4 was chosen based on agreement with CSF pools with documented results from the CSF-VDRL test and fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption test on CSF. Using an electronic reader, we obtained unit values of treponemal and nontreponemal antibodies for all study samples and generated a receiver operating characteristic curve; using the Youden index, we established diagnostic cutoffs with optimal sensitivity and specificity. Results Diagnostic sensitivity of the nontreponemal test was 80% (95% confidence interval, 63%-92%) and specificity was 97% (95% confidence interval, 85%-100%) for neurosyphilis diagnosis using a reactive CSF-VDRL that improved after neurosyphilis therapy as a criterion standard. Conclusions In this small study, the DPP Chembio test showed promising results for neurosyphilis diagnosis. Further studies are needed to assess its performance in resource-limited settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-356
Number of pages4
JournalSexually Transmitted Diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Dermatology


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