Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Infectious Diseases and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Total lymphocyte count as a surrogate marker for CD4 count in resource-limited settings

Christian Obirikorang1*, Lawrence Quaye2 and Isaac Acheampong3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Medicine, School of Medical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana

2 Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana

3 Laboratory Department, University Hospital, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Infectious Diseases 2012, 12:128  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-128

Published: 7 June 2012

Abstract

Background

CD4 testing is the recognized gold standard used to stage HIV/AIDS, guide treatment decisions for HIV-infected persons and evaluate effectiveness of therapy. The need for a less expensive surrogate marker that can be used in resource-limited setting is however necessary. The study sought to assess the suitability of Total lymphocyte count (TLC) as a surrogate marker for CD4 count in resource-limited localities in Ghana.

Methods

This observational study was conducted at the Central Regional Hospital, which has one of the established antiretroviral therapy centres in Ghana. A total of one hundred and eighty-four (184) confirmed HIV I seropositive subjects were included in the study. Blood samples were taken from all the subjects for estimation of CD4 and total lymphocyte counts. The study subjects were further categorised into three (3) groups according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classification criteria as follows: CD4 counts (1) ≥ 500 cells/mm3 (2) 200–499 cells/mm3 and (3) <200 cells/mm3. Positive predictive value (PPV), negative predictive value (NPV), sensitivity and specificity of various TLC cut-offs were computed for three groups. Correlation and Receiver Operator Characteristic analysis was performed for the various CD4 counts and their corresponding Total Lymphocyte count obtained.

Results

The sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values of TLC 1200 cells/ mm3 to predict CD4 count were <200 cells/mm3 72.2%, 100%, 100% and 95.7% respectively. A TLC of 1500 cells/ mm3 was found to have maximal sensitivity (96.67%), specificity (100%), PPV (100%) and NPV (75.0%) for predicting a CD4 cell count of 200–499 cell/mm3. A TLC of 1900 cells/mm3 was also found to have a maximal sensitivity (98.45%), specificity (100%), PPV (100%) and NPV (100%) for predicting CD4 count ≥500 cells/mm3. A positive correlation was noted between 184 paired CD4 and TLC counts (r = 0.5728).

Conclusion

Total Lymphocyte count can therefore adequately serve as a surrogate marker for CD4 count in HIV patients who are naïve for antiretroviral therapy in resource-limited areas.

Keywords:
Total lymphocyte count; CD4 count; Sensitivity; Specificity; Human immunodeficiency virus