1. In confirmation of Gaehtgens, syphilitic human sera give positive complement fixation with cultures of so called T. pallidum (Reiter strain). Syphilitic rabbit sera are equally reactive. Syphilitic human and rabbit sera agglutinate these cultures, often in high titre (Beck).
2. Normal rabbit sera react weakly with the culture to give both agglutination and complement fixation in low titre. Normal human sera, despite the fact that they contain agglutinins in low titre, fail to fix complement with the Reiter strain of cultured spirochetes. Confirming Gaehtgens, the latter reaction is therefore of practical utility for the serum diagnosis of syphilis.
3. When syphilitic serum is heated at 63°C., there is no demonstrable difference in the thermolability of the antibody to spirochetes, and of the reagin which determines the Wassermann and flocculation tests.
4. (a) The absorption of syphilitic serum by spirochetal suspensions removes all reactivity, not only for the spirochetes, but for tissue lipoids (alcoholic beef heart extract) as well; the sera become Wassermann- and flocculation-negative. (b) Absorption of syphilitic serum with tissue lipoids renders the Wassermann and flocculation tests negative, but does not demonstrably change the reactivity of the serum with spirochetes. (c) Rabbits immunized to beef heart lipoid develop spirochetal agglutinins and complement-fixing antibodies (Reiter strain) in high titre.
5. It is concluded that these cultured spirochetes contain antigenic material serologically related to a substance present in mammalian tissue, as well as other antigenic factors not present in such extracts, but equally reactive with syphilitic serum.
6. These findings support the thesis that the primary serologic change in syphilis is the development of antibodies to T. pallidum. The Wassermann and flocculation tests would be explained on the basis that the tissue extracts used as "antigen" in these tests contain one or more substances serologically related to antigenic components of T. pallidum. Similarly, the cultured Reiter strain of spirochete is apparently sufficiently close serologically to T. pallidum to be agglutinated by and to give complement fixation with the antibodies to T. pallidum present in syphilitic serum.
7. Since suspensions of cultured spirochetes contain antigenic factors which react specifically with syphilitic serum, some of which are not present in ordinary Wassermann and flocculation "antigens," they may prove even more valuable than those tissue extracts in the serodiagnosis of syphilis.