Doctoral Degrees (Haematological Pathology)

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    Investigating platelet function and immune activation in HIV-infection
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2015-04) Nkambule, Bongani Brian; Ipp, Hayley; Davison, Glenda; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dept. of Pathology. Haematological Pathology.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Introduction In the era of antiretroviral therapy (ART), people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) now have prolonged life spans. An emerging trend of non- acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) related complications now prevails in the aging HIV infected population. Increased levels of inflammation and chronic immune activation are associated with HIV infection. In the era of ART people living with HIV are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Platelets play a pivotal role in both inflammation and immune activation and upon activation platelets degranulate and secrete various inflammatory, coagulatory and adhesion molecules. Activated platelets express surface P-selectin (CD62P) and are a key component of the coagulation pathway and serve as a link between inflammation and thrombosis. Activated platelets have been implicated in inflammatory and cardiovascular disease and have been identified as immune cells that play a crucial role in pathogen recognition and modulation of immune cells during infections. Several antiviral and antibacterial properties of platelet alpha granule contents have been established. Platelet aggregometry remains the most widely used technique to evaluate platelet function even though this technique is limited by many pre-analytical variables. Platelet flow cytometry on the other hand offers a rapid measurement of platelet function in their physiological environment with minimal artefactual activation. Few studies have however reported on standardized methods to evaluate platelet function in the context of HIV. Platelet function remains unclear and data on HIV infected treatment naïve individuals remains scarce. The aim of this project was to examine the relationship between platelet function and immune activation in patients with HIV Materials and methods This study consisted of five sub-studies, firstly platelet indices and levels of platelet activation were determined in a cohort of 330 participants (185 HIV infected ARV naïve and 145 uninfected healthy controls) using; flow cytometry and haemotology analyzers. The relationship between these indices and markers of platelet activation, disease progression and immune activation were assessed. Furthermore, levels of platelet activation and aggregation were evaluated in a cohort of 82 participants (41 HIV infected (ARV naïve) individuals and 41 uninfected healthy controls), using a novel whole blood flow cytometry based functional assay. These baseline levels were then correlated with markers of immune activation and disease progression in HIV. In a subsequent study, platelet function in a cohort consisting of 58 HIV infected (ARV naïve) and 38 uninfected controls was evaluated using flow cytometry. Platelet response was measured post stimulation with adenosine diphosphate (ADP) at concentrations known to induce reversible (0.04mM) and irreversible (0.2mM) platelet aggregation. In order to assess platelet function in HIV, platelet response was evaluated in a cohort consisting of 58 HIV infected (ARV naïve) and 38 uninfected controls. Platelets were activated using varying concentrations of ADP, arachidonic acid (AA) and collagen and platelet function was measured using flow cytometry. Levels of circulating platelet leukocyte aggregates (PLAs) were also measured using flow cytometry in a cohort consisting of 35 HIV-infected (ARV naïve) individuals and 32 uninfected healthy controls. Associations between PLAs, immune activation and disease progression in HIV infected individuals were determined. The final study evaluated platelet aggregates, platelet derived microparticles (PMPs) and microparticles (MPs) in a cohort consisting of 46 HIV infected (ARV-naïve) and 40 uninfected healthy controls. Associations between MPs, PMPs, platelet aggregates and markers of immune activation and disease progression were evaluated. Results HIV infected individuals showed decreased mean platelet volume levels (HIV mean 7.91 ± 0.85 vs. 8.52 ± 1.12, p<0.0001) that directly correlated with CD4 counts (r=-0.2898, p=0.0075) and viral load (r=0.2680, p=0.0177). Platelet distribution width (PDW) levels directly correlated (r=0.3455, p=0.0362) with active coagulation and inversely correlated (r=-0.3666, p=0.0463) with platelet aggregation. HIV infected individuals showed increased levels of platelet activation (%CD62P median 11.33[5.96-29.36] vs. control group 2.48[1.56-6.04], p=0.0001). In HIV, platelet function is retained and platelets showed increased response to submaximal concentrations of endogenous agonists. HIV infected individuals showed increased levels of circulating platelet monocyte aggregates (25.26[16.16-32.28] vs. control group 14.12[8.36- 18.83], p=0.0001) that directly correlated with markers of immune activation; %CD38/8 (r=0.54624, p=0.0155), viral load (r=0.633, p<0.009). Furthermore we report on increased levels of circulating MPs (median %MPs 1.7[0.95-2.83] vs. Control group 1.12[0.63-1.57], p=0.0160); PMPs (median %PMPs 26.64[11.33-36.62] vs. Control group 20.02[18.08-26.08], p=0.0133); activated PMPs (median CD62P MFI 3.81[3.46-4.54] vs. Control group 3.41[3.16-3.6], p=0.0037) and platelet aggregates (Median %CD62P 14.10[5.49-39.94] vs. Control group 0.17[0.10-10.99], p= 0.0097) in HIV infected asymptomatic individuals. Conclusion This study supports the potential use of the MPV and PDW as readily available markers of platelet activation and immune activation in HIV. We also showed elevated levels of activated platelets in HIV infected individuals that were hyper responsive to endogenous agonists in a concentration dependent manner. Platelet flow cytometry is a rapid and valuable technique in the evaluation of platelet function in HIV. The measurement of platelet function using flow cytometry allows the evaluation of platelet signalling pathways that may be modified in HIV infected individuals. Lastly we describe an optimized whole blood flow cytometry based assay for the evaluation of circulating microparticles (MPs), platelet derived microparticles (PMPs) and levels of activated platelets and aggregates which mimics the in vivo physiological environment of MPs. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to report on a novel approach in evaluating platelet function in HIV using a series of optimised whole blood flow cytometry based platelet assays. In addition, minimal work has been performed previously on platelet function in the context of HIV-infection; and particularly in a cohort of asymptomatic, untreated patients as defined for this study.
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    Impact of inflammation-induced oxidative stress on the integrity of immuno-haematopoietic cells and potential ameliorating interventions in an in vitro HIV model
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2013-12) Wanjiku, Samuel Mburu; Marnewick, Jeanine L.; Abayomi, Akin; Ipp, Hayley; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Health Sciences. Dept. of Pathology. Haematological Pathology.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Chronic inflammation and immune activation are hallmarks of HIV infection, resulting in chronic oxidative stress with over-utilization of antioxidant defences, which may contribute to the loss of immune cells and faster disease progression. Low levels of antioxidants in HIV- infected individuals have been associated with frequent opportunistic infections and an increased risk of mortality. HIV infection is also associated with on-going and aberrant activation of both the innate and adaptive immune systems. An important aspect of innate immune stimulation is derived from the leakage of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) across the damaged mucosal lining of the gut in early HIV infection. The impact of this innate immune stimulation on the adaptive arm of the immune system, as represented in this study by levels of CD4+ T-cell activation and death, have not been explored previously in untreated HIV infection. Using an integrated approach of immune activation, inflammation, oxidative stress and ameliorating antioxidant intervention for the first time, this thesis reports the impact of inflammatory induced-oxidative stress on CD4+ T-cells in an in vitro HIV model. In a preliminary study, baseline levels of neutrophil respiratory burst as an in vitro indication of immune stimulation were investigated. The relationships between baseline total antioxidant status (TAS), Red blood cell (RBC) antioxidant enzyme activities (catalase, superoxide dismutase & glutathione peroxidase), lipid peroxidation and glutathione redox ratio and other markers of disease in asymptomatic, untreated HIV infection were also explored. The design and optimization of an assay that could determine the effects of LPS-induced oxidative stress on CD4+ T-cells, was a critical part of this study. The development of this assay enabled the measurement of the effects of selected antioxidant interventions N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and vitamin C, on LPS-induced CD4+ T-cell activation and death. The results were also correlated with CD4 count, viral load and markers of inflammation (fibrinogen & D-dimers) in HIV-infected and uninfected groups. Neutrophils from HIV-infected persons at rest showed a ―primed‖ response to low stimulating agent, bacterial N-formyl peptides (fMLP), which was significantly (P = 0.04) higher than uninfected individuals. There was increased oxidative stress as evidenced by increased catalase activity, malondialdehyde (MDA) and conjugated dienes (CDs) with a corresponding decrease in antioxidant capacity in HIV-infected individuals with lower CD4 count. NAC in combination with vitamin C, significantly (P = 0.0018) reduced activation of CD4+ T-cells to a greater degree than with either antioxidant alone. NAC and vitamin C individually and in combination significantly (P = 0.05, P = 0.012 and P<0.0001) decreased the expression of the markers of apoptosis, Annexin V and 7-amino-actinomycin (7-AAD). Importantly, the antioxidant combination decreased MDA values and significantly (P = 0.01) increased the glutathione redox ratio in the HIV-infected group. Based on these results, the respiratory burst and LPS-induced activation may be important contributing factors in inflammatory-associated oxidative stress in HIV infection and contribute to the depletion of CD4+ T-cells in the asymptomatic stage of HIV infection. These results also indicate the potential inhibitory effects of NAC and vitamin C in combination as agents that may limit immune activation and inflammation-induced oxidative stress. Importantly, the study showed that at this asymptomatic stage, CD4+ T-cells of the HIV-infected group responded similarly to stimulation as the HIV negative group, indicating that antioxidant defences were still functional and that appropriate early intervention at this stage may be protective against oxidative damage to the immune cells. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to use an integrated approach involving not only plasma levels of antioxidant status, but also RBC antioxidant enzyme activities, oxidative damage (lipid peroxidation), inflammation, cellular levels of immune activation and potential ameliorating interventions in evaluating the problem of inflammation-induced oxidative stress in HIV infection. Based on the results of this study, it is envisaged that an insight into the immune activation, inflammatory and oxidative stress status of patients will enable long-term profiling of each patient with a view to individualized therapy. This approach may have a direct impact on patient care in resource-limited settings such as sub-Saharan Africa.