Comparison of CD4 cell count by a simple enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using the TRAx CD4 test kit and by flow cytometry and hematology

H. Paxton, M. Pins, G. Denton, A. D. McGonigle, P. S. Meisner, J. P. Phair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Measurement of CD4 T-lymphocyte levels is clinically useful in monitoring immune status in a number of conditions, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, in which the absolute CD4 count is used to guide therapy. The absolute CD4 count is obtained by multiplying the results of the leukocyte count and the differential with a hematology cell counter and the percentage of CD4+ T lymphocytes determined by flow cytometry. These techniques require expensive, complex instrumentation, and interlaboratory results are difficult to standardize and reproduce. The rapid growth of HIV infection worldwide has increased the need for more-reproducible and cost-effective methods for CD4 T-cell monitoring. The TRAx CD4 test kit is based on a novel adaptation of conventional enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and permits the simple quantitation of total CD4 protein from whole-blood lysates. In this study, the relationship between total CD4 protein measured in units per milliliter (TRAx) and in cells per microliter (flow cytometry and hematology) was defined in a multisite clinical study using linear regression analysis. Data from 230 HIV-seronegative and 321 HIV-seropositive specimens were used to calibrate the TRAx assay recombinant CD4 standards and controls in equivalent CD4 T lymphocytes per microliter (cells per microliter). The calibration of the TRAx CD4 assay in cells per microliter was validated with a second group of specimens from 17 healthy volunteers and 20 HIV-seropositive patients which were collected and tested under strictly controlled conditions intended to minimize the effects of specimen aging on the results of the reference method. These data were also used to estimate the variability of absolute CD4 count by cytometric methods as well as the precision of the TRAx CD4 result after it was calibrated in cells per microliter. Overall, correlations between the two methods ranged from 0.87 to 0.95. Additional studies demonstrated that the contribution of CD4 protein from monocytes and any soluble CD4 in sera are negligible in the TRAx assay and do not significantly affect results. This new method represents a promising alternative to absolute CD4 T-cell enumeration by flow cytometry and hematology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-114
Number of pages11
JournalClinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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