Effect of shipment, storage, anticoagulant, and cell separation on lymphocyte proliferation assays for human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients

Adriana Weinberg, Rebecca A. Betensky, L. I. Zhang, Graham Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lymphocyte proliferation assays (LPA), which can provide important information regarding the immune reconstitution of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients on highly active antiretroviral therapy, frequently involve shipment of specimens to central laboratories. In this study, we examine the effect of stimulant, anticoagulant, cell separation, storage, and transportation on LPA results. LPA responses of whole blood and separated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) to different stimulants (cytomegalovirus, varicella-zoster virus, candida and tetanus toxoid antigens, and phytohemagglutinin) were measured using fresh specimens shipped overnight and frozen specimens collected in heparin, acid citrate dextrose (ACD), and citrate cell preparation tubes (CPT) from 12 HIV-infected patients and uninfected controls. Odds ratios for positive LPA responses were significantly higher in separated PBMC than in whole blood from ACD- and heparin-anticoagulated samples obtained from HIV-infected patients and from ACD-anticoagulated samples from uninfected controls. On separated PBMC, positive responses were significantly more frequent in fresh samples compared with overnight transportation for all antigens and compared with cryopreservation for the candida and tetanus antigens. In addition, viral antigen LPA responses were better preserved in frozen PBMC compared with specimens shipped overnight. CPT tubes yielded significantly more positive LPA results for all antigens, irrespective of the HIV patient status compared with ACD, but only for the candida and tetanus antigens and only in HIV- negative controls compared with heparin. Although HIV-infected patients had a significantly lower number of positive antigen-driven LPA responses compared with uninfected controls, most of the specimen processing variables had similar effects on HIV-positive and -negative samples. We conclude that LPA should be performed on site, whenever feasible, by using separated PBMC from fresh blood samples collected in either heparin or ACD. However, if on-site testing is not available, optimal transportation conditions should he established for specific antigens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)804-807
Number of pages4
JournalClinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology (medical)


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