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Volume 27, Number 4—April 2021
Etymologia

Etymologia: Treponema

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Fabio C. Pogliani1 and Rüdiger D. Ollhoff1Comments to Author 
Author affiliations: Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (F.C. Pogliani); Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil (R.D. Ollhoff)

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Treponema [trep′′o-ne′mə]

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Tissue sample stained with Steiner silver stain. Image shows numerous, corkscrew-shaped, darkly-stained, Treponema pallidum spirochetes, which cause syphilis. Skip Van Orden, Centers for Disease Control, 1966.

Figure. Tissue sample stained with Steiner silver stain. Image shows numerous, corkscrew-shaped, darkly-stained, Treponema pallidum spirochetes, which cause syphilis. Skip Van Orden, Centers for Disease Control, 1966.

From the Greek trepo (rotate, turn) and ne¯ma (thread), Treponema is a genus of gram-negative, anaerobic or microaerophilic bacteria. They are spiral-shaped and have flagella, which extend from motors at the pole, producing undulating movement through fluids, enabling tissue invasion and dissemination (Figure). In 1905, microbiologist Fritz Richard Schaudinn and dermatologist Paul Erich Hoffmann described Treponema pallidum subsp. pallidum as Spirochaeta pallida from a fresh human vulvar lesion.

Treponema spp. can invade the epidermis and oral, intestinal, and genital mucosa of humans and animals. They cause human diseases, such as syphilis, yaws, pinta, and bejel, and animal diseases, such as digital dermatitis. T. phagedenis, T. pedis, and T. medium infect mainly cattle. T. paraluiscuniculi can cause syphilis in rabbits.

Most Treponema spp. are not cultivable, except for T. palllidum subsp. pallidum and T. phagedenis. T. pallidum subsp. pallidum causative syphilis is a reemerging disease in industrialized countries. Digital dermatitis, a polytreponemal disease, is considered to be the major infectious claw disease in cattle worldwide.

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References

  1. Dorland’s illustrated medical dictionary. 32nd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.
  2. Edmondson  DG, Hu  B, Norris  SJ. Long-term in vitro culture of the syphilis spirochete Treponema pallidum subsp. pallidum. MBio. 2018;9:e01153. DOIPubMed
  3. Nally  JE, Hornsby  RL, Alt  DP, Whitelegge  JP. Phenotypic and proteomic characterization of treponemes associated with bovine digital dermatitis. Vet Microbiol. 2019;235:3542. DOIPubMed
  4. Oriel  JD. The scars of Venus: a history of venereology. London: Springer-Verlag; 1994.
  5. Šmajs  D, Zobaníková  M, Strouhal  M, Čejková  D, Dugan-Rocha  S, Pospíšilová  P, et al. Complete genome sequence of Treponema paraluiscuniculi, strain Cuniculi A: the loss of infectivity to humans is associated with genome decay. PLoS One. 2011;6:e20415. DOIPubMed

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Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid2704.et2704

Original Publication Date: February 26, 2021

1These authors contributed equally to this article.

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Table of Contents – Volume 27, Number 4—April 2021

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Rüdiger D. Ollhoff, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciência Animal da Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Rua Imaculada Conceição, 1155 Prado Velho, Curitiba 80215 901, Paraná, Brazil

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Page created: February 26, 2021
Page updated: March 18, 2021
Page reviewed: March 18, 2021
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
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