Evaluation of the Reiter Protein Complement-Fixation (RPCF) Test for Syphilis*

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IN recent years many new serologic tests have been developed for the diagnosis of syphilis. Some of these tests are so complex as to be restricted to research institutions or large public health laboratories. The Reiter protein complement-fixation (RPCF) test, however, can be readily performed in a small hospital laboratory and, according to most published reports,1–3 the results compare favorably with those of the more expensive and difficult Treponema pallidum immobilization (TPI) test for syphilis. For these reasons, it seemed desirable to evaluate the RPCF test along with the cardiolipin procedures that have been performed as standard procedures in our serology laboratory4 (Kolmer complement-fixation test since 1921, and Kahn test since 1925).

Historical Background

The evolution of the various serologic tests for syphilis had a rather slow beginning, but has been progressing at great speed during the last decade. Schaudinn and Hoffmann5 described the Treponema pallidum as the etiologic agent of syphilis in 1905, and in the following year a serologic test for syphilis was reported by Wassermann, Neisser, and Bruck,6 who, using a complement-fixation procedure, employed saline extracts of organs containing many treponemata as antigens. In 1907, serviceable antigens were prepared from normal tissues, and by 1911 several antigens had been derived from alcoholic extracts of beef heart muscle plus cholesterol. The quality of lipoidal antigens has been improved by Pangborn’s7 isolation of cardiolipin (a phospholipid from beef heart), the development of methods for the purification of lecithin from beef heart and egg yolk, and the use of synthetic . . .



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