Low-cost CD4 enumeration in HIV-infected patients in Thailand

Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2003 Jun;21(2):105-13.


In Thailand, over one million people have been infected with HIV since the beginning of the epidemic. This has created a great burden on the country's limited health care budget. Monitoring CD4+ T-lymphocytes is important to determine the success of any antiretroviral therapy as well as HIV vaccine trials. However, the high cost of CD4 counts makes monitoring of every HIV-infected patient impossible in Thailand. Therefore, the development of affordable strategies is necessary in order to allow more HIV infected persons to access CD4 testing to control the disease. The current standard methods for enumeration of CD4+ T-lymphocytes are performed on whole blood by flow cytometric immunophenotyping using the 6-tube 2-color and 3-tube 3-color panels recommended by the Centers for Diseases Control (CDC). In this study, percentage CD4+ T-lymphocyte values (from 142 HIV-seropositive patients and 26 anti-HIV negative adult blood donors) generated by the use of just 2 reagents (CD45/CD4) in a 1-tube 2-color panel employing side scatter/CD45 morphospectral gating were compared to those obtained by state of the art methods. We also compared the use of generic monoclonal antibody reagents with commercial reagents and found the results to be comparable with an overall correlation coefficient (r) of more than 0.95 for both CD4+ and CD8+ T-lymphocytes. Bland-Altman analysis of the mean CD4 values plotted against the difference in values between the generic reagents and the commercial reagents showed no bias. The 1-tube 2-color method using generic monoclonal antibody reagents potentially permits more affordable but reliable CD4 testing and therefore could increase access for more HIV-infected patients in resource-poor countries.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count / economics
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count / methods*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Flow Cytometry / methods
  • HIV Infections / blood
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Immunologic
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Statistics as Topic
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • Thailand


  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte