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Analytical Cellular Pathology
Volume 21, Issue 1, Pages 11-20

Spontaneous Apoptosis, Oxidative Status and Immunophenotype Markers in Blood Lymphocytes of AIDS Patients

Gabriele A. Losa and Riccardo Graber

Laboratorio di Patologia Cellulare, Istituto Cantonale di Patologia, CH‐6601 Locarno, Switzerland

Received 14 March 2000; Accepted 25 July 2000

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 251 HIV‐positive drug abusers of known clinical stage and from 40 healthy donors were tested for conventional immunologic markers (CD3, CD4, CD8, CD19, CD14, CD16/CD56, CD45 and HLA‐DR). Additional cell parameters and the occurrence of spontaneous apoptosis (programmed cell death) were investigated on freshly isolated PBMC by flow cytometric measurement of either annexin‐V bound to plasma membrane phosphatidylserine or propidium iodide uptake. The activity of γ‐glutamyltransferase (γ‐GT), an ectoenzyme contributing to the synthesis of the intracellular antioxidant glutathione (GSH) and involved in early apoptosis, was also determined in these cells. Immunocompetent T‐cell counts were lower in HIV+ patients, with the exception of CD8+ and HLA‐DR+ lymphocytes. The external binding of annexin‐V was significantly higher in HIV+ PBMC and occurred in both CD8+ and CD4+ T‐lymphocyte subsets. The activity of γ‐GT, was significantly lower in the PBMC from HIV+ patients, indicating that the redox status of PBMC may be affected in HIV+ individuals. Finally, the most dominant features characterising patients receiving antiretroviral therapy were greater long‐term stability in the distribution of various cell parameters excepted the level of apoptosis.