Multicentre surveillance of prevalence of the 23S rRNA A2058G and A2059G point mutations and molecular subtypes of Treponema pallidum in Taiwan, 2009-2013.

Research paper by B-R BR Wu, C-J CJ Yang, M-S MS Tsai, K-Y KY Lee, N-Y NY Lee, W-C WC Huang, H H Wu, C-H CH Lee, T-C TC Chen, W-C WC Ko, H-H HH Lin, P-L PL Lu, Y-H YH Chen, W-C WC Liu, S-P SP Yang, et al.

Indexed on: 21 Jan '14Published on: 21 Jan '14Published in: Clinical Microbiology and Infection


Resistance mutations A2058G and A2059G, within the 23S rRNA gene of Treponema pallidum, have been reported to cause treatment failures in patients receiving azithromycin for syphilis. Genotyping of T. pallidum strains sequentially isolated from patients with recurrent syphilis is rarely performed. From September 2009 to August 2013, we collected 658 clinical specimens from 375 patients who presented with syphilis for genotyping to examine the number of 60-bp repeats in the acidic repeat protein (arp) gene, T. pallidum repeat (tpr) polymorphism, and tp0548 gene, and to detect A2058G and A2059G point mutations by restriction fragment length polymorphism. Treponemal DNA was identified in 45.2% (n = 298) of the specimens that were collected from 216 (57.6%) patients; 268 (40.7%) specimens tested positive for the 23S rRNA gene, and were examined for macrolide resistance. Two isolates (0.7%) harboured the A2058G mutation, and no A2059G mutation was identified. A total of 14 strains of T. pallidum were identified, with 14f/f (57.5%) and 14b/c (10.0%) being the two predominant strains. Forty patients who presented with recurrent episodes of syphilis had T. pallidum DNA identified from the initial and subsequent episodes, with five cases showing strain discrepancies. One patient had two strains identified from different clinical specimens collected in the same episode. Our findings show that 14f/f is the most common T. pallidum strain in Taiwan, where the prevalence of T. pallidum strains that show A2058G or A2059G mutation remains low. Different genotypes of T. pallidum can be identified in patients with recurrent episodes of syphilis.