A study was made of the infections produced in rabbits inoculated in the testicles with two strains of Treponema pallidum which had been carried in rabbits for several years. Infection resulted in all instances; the incubation period varied as a rule between 2 and 6 weeks and under properly chosen conditions could be reduced to approximately 3 weeks or less.
The resulting infection pursued a typically cyclic or relapsing course which affected both the spirochetes and the associated lesions in the testicle. The spirochetes in the local lesions exhibited periodic changes less marked and less regular but identical in character with the changes which occur in the blood in cases of relapsing fever. The lesions in the testicle also showed periods of active development and quiescence or regression which followed closely upon the changes exhibited by the spirochetes.
The specific reaction in the testicle showed considerable variation in the speed and sharpness with which successive phenomena occurred as well as in the character and extent of the processes themselves. These reactions were of two fundamental types. In one group of animals, the reaction was characterized by an intense cycle of acute exudation and infiltration with a lesser degree of proliferation, followed by crisis and subsequent recurrence of secondary cycles of proliferative reaction of a minor degree. In the other group of animals, the reaction was more chronic in character and consisted largely of infiltration and proliferation. The progress of the reaction was more gradual, and sharp alterations in its course were absent. The infection progressed by a succession of stages with slight and irregular remissions.
In a third group of animals, the reaction was subacute, combining at the same time the processes of exudation, infiltration, and proliferation. The first cycle of reaction was fairly acute and terminated in a definite crisis with moderate regression which in turn was followed by recurrence and more or less pronounced secondary cycles of proliferation.
In all cases of outspoken infection, there was diffuse involvement of testicle, tunic, epididymis, and cord, but as the infection progressed, the lesions underwent many transformations, so that a variety of lesions was formed from processes which in the beginning were of a common type. Eventually, the reaction became more irregular and the infection became centered in one or more foci which were commonly situated in the epididymis, tunics, scrotum, or mediastinum testis. These centers served as residual foci of infection.
The duration of the testicular process was found to be very variable. In some animals, the entire reaction consisted of but a single sharp cycle, and the local infection was terminated by crisis within 4 to 6 weeks after inoculation. As a rule, the period of active infection was from 2 to 4 months, and quiescent or inactive lesions not infrequently lasted for from 4 to 6 months. In exceptional instances, local infection persisted for more than a year.