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Immunophenotypic Analysis of Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes in Addicts by Flow Cytometry.

1Neevine F El-Beshlawy, 1Inas H El-Mehallawi and 2Manal M El-Amin.

Departments of 1Forensic Medicine & Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, Tanta University and 2Clinical Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Zagazig University.

The current study was performed in view of the very limited reports on the immunophenotypic changes in peripheral blood lymphocytes of drug abusers. In addition to control group (ten healthy male persons), different groups of abusers including opiates (6), benzodiazepines (6), amphetamines (6), cannabis (9), alcohol (6), and polydrug abusers (14) were the subjects of this study. All studied patients were seronegative for HBV and HIV. White blood cell (WBC) counts, absolute numbers of lymphocytes, monocytes and granulocytes and percentage of lymphocyte subsets were used as the parameters of analysis. The study revealed that WBC counts were insignificantly different in the studied groups of addicts compared to controls. Differentially, significant increase in monocytic count was evident in opiates, benzodiazepines, cannabis and polydrug abusers while significant lymphopenia and granulocytopenia were evident in amphetamine and chronic alcoholics. Immunophenotypic analysis of peripheral blood lymphocytes revealed that, opiate abusers exhibited significant reduction in CD19+ (total B cells) %, CD4+ (helper/inducer) % and CD4+/CD8+ (helper/suppressor) ratio. While there were insignificant reduction in CD3+ (total T cells)%and elevation in CD8+ ( suppressor / cytotoxic) % and activated T (HLA-DR) %. CD16+ CD56+ (natural killer cells)% was insignificantly different from control values. Benzodiazepine and polydrug abusers exhibited significant reduction in CD19+ % and CD4+/CD8+ ratio and increase in CD8+ % and activated T %, while there were insignificant reduction in CD3+ %, CD4+ % and increase in natural killer cell % compared to control values. Amphetamine abusers revealed significant elevation of CD8+ % and activated T % and decrease of CD3+ %, CD19+ % and CD4+ / CD8+ ratio, whereas CD4+ % showed insignificant decrease as compared to control values. Cannabis users and alcoholics exhibited significant increase in CD8+ % and activated T % and reduction of CD19+ %, CD4+ % and CD4+ / CD8+ ratio, while there were insignificant changes in CD3+ % and natural killer cell % compared to the control values. Moreover, the study revealed significant correlation between the duration of addiction and the encountered modulation of different immune parameters in chronic alcoholics and cannabis users, while other groups of addicts showed insignificant correlation. These findings demonstrate that addiction is associated with variation in levels of certain T cell subpopulations and other immune cells. This may represent a disruption of particular immunologic cell network which could ultimately influence host resistance to infection and malignancy.