Definition of treponeme in US English:


(also treponema)


  • A spirochete bacterium that is parasitic or pathogenic in humans and warm-blooded animals, including the causal agents of syphilis and yaws.

    Genus Treponema, order Spirochaetales; Gram-negative

    • ‘Over 10 years 195 samples of serum and cerebrospinal fluid gave positive results in the fluorescent treponema antibody assay, which means a primary infection of T pallidum, and 48 fulfilled the criteria for neurosyphilis.’
    • ‘In addition, the finding of treponemes within exudative lesions and positive serology aids the diagnosis.’
    • ‘However, its accuracy is limited by the experience of the operator performing the test, the number of live treponemes in the lesion, and the presence of nonpathologic treponemes in oral or anal lesions.’
    • ‘In 46 of 118 cases, researchers found treponemes that were resistant to azithromycin.’
    • ‘Today the treponeme produces a much slower, chronic form of the disease.’


Early 20th century: from modern Latin Treponema, from Greek trepein ‘to turn’ + nēma ‘thread’.