Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Molecular Mechanisms of Disease

pp 2011-2012

Syphilis of the Central Nervous System

  • Hilmar PrangeAffiliated withInstitute of Physiology, University of TuebingenDepartment of Neurology, Georg-August-University Goettingen


Neurosyphilis; Neurolues; Tabetic, paretic, and meningovascular neurosyphilis; Syphilitic meningitis (primosecondary stage); Syphilis cerebrospinalis

Definition and Characteristics

Infection by Treponema pallidum (T.p.) induces syphilis – a multistage complaint with varying organ manifestations und courses. Syphilitic involvement of central nervous structures may occur in all stages after infection. Syphilitic meningitis in the primosecondary stage results in headache, nausea, vomiting, and stiff neck, at times combined with cranial nerve alterations (predominantly nerves II, VII, and VIII). Patients are usually afebrile. Laboratory indicators of inflammation such as increased sedimentation rate or C-reactive protein are mostly absent as are intrathecally synthesized antibodies against T.p.

CNS manifestations of tertiary syphilis are meningovascular neurosyphilis (syphilis cerebrospinalis), general paresis, and tabes dosalis. Meningovascular n ...

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