Protracted Treponema pallidum-Induced Cutaneous Chancres in Rabbits Infected with Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type I

Chien Te Kent Tseng, Stewart Sell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In a preliminary study, two of four rabbits infected with human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) demonstrated prolonged primary chancres following super infection with Treponema pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis. Two rabbits inoculated with 1 X 107 HTLV-I-infected human MT-2 cells and two with infected rabbit cells from a line established in this laboratory (RLT-P), developed latent HTLV-I infection as detected by seroconversion 10 weeks after infection and by detection of HTLV-I sequences in the DNA of peripheral blood lymphocytes after amplification by polymerase chair reaction (PCR) 15 weeks after infection. The rabbits remained clinically normal and had normal blood counts. Six months after infection, the four HTLV-infected rabbits and two noninfected controls were challenged by the intradermal inoculation of 1 X 106 Treponema pallidum into eight sites on the shaved back. The lesions of two of the HTLV-I-infected rabbits had a time course similar to non-HTLV-I-infected controls and were completely healed by 4 weeks. The lesions of one of the other two rabbits with progressive disease began to heal about 7 weeks after T. pallidum challenge. The cutaneous lesions in the other rabbit remained dark-field positive and became a confluent eschar at 8 weeks; healing only after treatment with penicillin. Four months after the primary challenge none of the six rabbits previously challenged with T. pallidum had developed lesions after rechallenge and thus expressed chancre immunity. These results demonstrate that rabbits with latent HTLV-I infections may have defective cell-mediated immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-331
Number of pages9
JournalAIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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