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March 30, 1970

Atypical FTA-ABS Test Fluorescence in Lupus Erythematosus Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Venereal Disease Research Laboratory, National Communicable Disease Center, Atlanta (Dr. Kraus and M. A. Lantz), and the Division of Dermatology, Case-Western Reserve University, Cleveland (Dr. Haserick).

JAMA. 1970;211(13):2140-2141. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170130036007

An unusual pattern of treponemal fluorescence was found when the flourescent treponemal antibody-absorption (FTA-ABS) test was performed on serum samples from four presumably nonsyphilitic patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus. Instead of the homogeneous fluorescence of the Treponema pallidum organisms seen with serum samples from patients with syphilis, a "beaded" fluorescence was observed. Since the intensity of the atypical fluorescence was comparable to that seen with serum samples from patients with syphilis, if the atypical nature of the fluorescence had not been noted, the test result may have been reported reactive. Such reactive test results could lead to an erroneous diagnosis of syphilis.