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Comparative Evaluation of the Levels of CD4+ and CD8+ T-Cells, Viral Load, and Some Immunomodulatory Trace Elements in ART and ART-naïve HIV Patients in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria

Ugochukwu Chioma, Helen Anthony Waribo, Donatus O. Onwuli

Abstract: Aim: To evaluate the levels of CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells, viral load, and some immunomodulatory trace elements in ART and ART-naïve HIV patients in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria. Methodology: A total of 150 subjects (males and females) between the ages of 20 and 79 were recruited for the study, out of which 50 subjects were apparently healthy (those who tested negative for HIV), and were used as the control group, while the remaining 100 subjects were those who tested positive for HIV, and were used as the test group; out of this 100 subjects, 70 subjects were on anti-retroviral therapy (ART), while the remaining 30 subjects were not on anti-retroviral therapy (ART naïve). About 13 mls of venous blood was collected from the antecubital fossa of each subject. 3mls was dispensed into an EDTA-anticoagulant bottle, and used for the estimation of CD4+ and CD8+ counts using a BD fluorescent activated cell sorter count (FACSC count) automation. Also, 5mls of the venous blood was dispensed into another EDTA-anticoagulated bottle; it was spun to obtain the plasma which was used to analyze the viral load using real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) COBAS TaqMan 48 Analyzer. Then, another 5 mls of the venous blood was dispensed into lithium heparin bottle; it was spun to obtain the plasma, which was used for the analysis of copper, iron, zinc and magnesium by colorimetric method using semi auto-analyzer WP 21E, and selenium using atomic absorption spectrophotometer with graphite furnace technique SN-SG 710690. Results: The results showed that there was no significant difference (p>0.05) in the mean levels of CD8+ T-cell, iron and magnesium between the HIV-positive subjects (ART HIV-positive and ART-naïve HIV-positive) and the control. However, the mean levels of CD4+ T-cell and plasma copper were significantly lower (p<0.05) in the HIV-positive subjects compared to the control; also, the mean levels of the CD4+ T-cell in the ART-naïve subjects were significantly lower compared to the ART subjects. The viral load in ART-naïve subjects were significantly higher compared to the ART subjects and control. However, the mean levels of zinc and selenium were significantly lower in the HIV-positive subjects compared to the control. Conclusion: Based on these results, it may be stated that some immunomodulatory trace elements such as zinc and selenium were deficient in HIV-positive subjects, and as such, addition of zinc and/or selenium supplements in the treatment regimen for HIV-positive subjects may be helpful in boosting their immunity and effective management.
Keywords: viral load / ART naïve HIV / CD8 / levels of CD4

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