OAT Ebuehi, M Balogun, RA Audu, OE Idigbe



A cross sectional study was carried out to investigate the osmotic fragility and Na+ -K+ ATPase activity of the erythrocytes of HIV/AIDS patients. Whole blood was taken from subjects at the Human Virology Laboratory of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research. Subjects were judged suitable for the various investigations by means of a questionnaire. The Genie II HIV diagnostic kit was used to confirm HIV positive status. HIV positive subjects were grouped into two: those receiving anti-retroviral therapy were referred to as the ARV group and those not receiving antiretroviral therapy were designated as non-ARV group. Each group was further sub-divided according to the Centers for Disease Control 1993 classification of HIV disease. HIV negative subjects must have tested no later than two months to the sample collection date and must not lead a high-risk lifestyle. Twenty microliters of whole blood were used for the erythrocytes osmotic fragility assay. One milliliter of whole blood was used to prepare the erythrocyte ghost membrane for the Na+-K+ ATPase activity assay. The two HIV positive groups showed significant increase in percentage haemolysis under osmotic stress at 0.65% saline. The ARV group had an average percentage haemolysis of 2.56 ± 0.81% while the non-ARV group had an average of 3.19 ± 1.11% compared to an average of 0.83 ± 0.36% for the control group (p < 0.05). A pattern observed in the result was an increase in activity with increasing severity of the HIV/AIDS disease. Data from the present study indicate that the osmotic fragility of erythrocytes was significantly potentiated, while Na+-K+ ATPase activity was not significantly altered (p < 0.05) in HIV/AIDS disease.

Key Words: Osmotic fragility, Na+ -K+ ATPase activity, erythrocytes, HIV/AIDS

Afr. J. Clin. Exper. Microbiol. 2004; 5(2): 148 – 154.