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May 1956

Serologic Tests for Syphilis: Special Reference to Their Historical Aspects

Author Affiliations


From the Institute of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine.

AMA Arch Derm. 1956;73(5):455-463. doi:10.1001/archderm.1956.01550050033004


Complement Fixation.—In 1901 Bordet and Gengou1 first discovered the phenomenon of complement fixation in the course of an argument with Ehrlich and Morgenroth on the question of the unity or multiplicity of complement in normal serums. Their experiments were conducted with an antigen of Pasteurella pestis, horse antipest serum, guinea pig complement, and an antirabbit hemolytic system with adequate controls. Indeed their technique was wonderfully correct in all essential details. Curiously enough, however, the possible value of this discovery in the serum diagnosis of infectious diseases escaped their attention. But Widal and LeSourd2 promptly employed this test in the diagnosis of typhoid, which was soon followed by its application in the identification and differentiation of blood stains by Gengou and Neisser and Sachs, in typhoid by Wassermann and Bruck, in tuberculosis by Wassermann and Sachs, in swine erysipelas by Citron,

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