Investigating the ultrastructure of platelets of HIV patients treated with the immuno-regulator, Canova: a qualitative scanning electron microscopy study

Histol Histopathol. 2009 Apr;24(4):399-405. doi: 10.14670/HH-24.399.


The resistance of HIV strains to the available antiretroviral medication has become a major problem in the world today. This has forced researchers to investigate the possible use of alternative drugs such as homeopathic medicine (e.g. immunomodulators) to enhance the immune system of patients infected with HIV. Canova is an immunomodulator of herbal origin which is known to stimulate the host defense against several pathological states through the activation of the immune system. Blood platelets play an important role in homeostasis, thrombosis and the immune response by forming platelet aggregates. The ultrastructure of platelet aggregates of patients with HIV has been studied previously using SEM to determine the effect of HIV on the platelet morphology. Membrane blebbing and ruptured platelet membranes were observed which is indicative of apoptosis, revealing that HIV patients may develop thrombocytopenia as a result of peripheral platelet destruction. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effect of HIV on the morphology of platelets from patients treated with the immuno-modulator, Canova, compared to control individuals and HIV patients not on the Canova treatment. Blood was drawn from the individuals and the coagula were formed by adding human thrombin to the platelet rich plasma. Examination was done using SEM. CD4 counts were also determined. Slight morphological changes were seen when comparing the fibrin networks from the control, untreated HIV patients and the Canova-treated HIV patients, suggesting that HIV does not impact on the fragility of fibrin networks. In HIV patients there are bleb-like bulges on the membrane of platelets as well as membrane breakages visible on the aggregate, whereas in the Canova-treated patients membrane blebbing is far less pronounced and there are large areas of intact, smooth membranes with visible canalicular areas, suggesting that Canova protects the membranes of platelets and that blebbing does not appear in such great proportions as was found in the untreated HIV group. These results support and provide ultrastructural evidence for the results seen in previous research, where it is seen that Canova protects the immune system of immuno-compromised patients by keeping the ultrastructure intact thereby preventing the devastating cyto-destructive effects of HIV disease.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Blood Platelets / ultrastructure*
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Crotalid Venoms / therapeutic use*
  • Fibrin / ultrastructure
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / pathology*
  • HIV Infections / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Viral Load


  • Canova medication
  • Crotalid Venoms
  • Plant Extracts
  • Fibrin