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J Clin Microbiol. 1992 Sep; 30(9): 2353–2358.
PMCID: PMC265505

Blood spot screening and confirmatory tests for syphilis antibody.


We developed a blood spot test for syphilis antibody using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technology. Dried blood was eluted by buffered saline or, for a supplementary confirmatory test, by treponemal-antibody test diluent. Eluates were diluted in an absorption buffer (Calypte Biomedical, Berkeley, Calif.) and added to plate wells coated with cardiolipin antigen (ADI Diagnostics, Toronto, Ontario, Canada). The wells were washed and treated sequentially with an immunoglobulin G conjugate, buffer washes, and enzyme substrate. Substrate conversion was measured photometrically, and specimen reactivity was determined by reference to nonreactive controls. The optimum test protocol was established by tests of serum and plasma. The serum ELISA specificity with normal specimens was 98.9%. The sensitivity with sera from patients with undefined syphilis was 97.4%, that with sera from patients with documented primary and secondary disease was 100%, and that with sera from patients with early and late latent disease was 95.7%. The specificity of the spot test with donor blood was 94.2%, and its specificity with newborn blood was 94.9%. The sensitivity with 25 spots spiked with reactive sera was 96%. The seroprevalence rates for parturient women in one hospital were 6.01% according to spot tests of sera from 599 newborns and 6.81% according to Rapid Plasma Reagin tests of 499 maternal serum specimens. Seventy percent of infants born to 50 seropositive women were reactive by either the newborn spot or the Rapid Plasma Reagin serum test. The results show that blood spots may be used in seroprevalence or serodiagnostic studies, especially to identify women who are infected or to identify possible cases of congenital infection. The test provides for studies of children and adults when routine venipuncture and serum handling and storage are problematic.

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