In this test, incision (a surgical cut made in skin) or a superficial skin puncture is made and the time is measured for bleeding to stop.
There are three methods most commonly used to measure bleeding time:
In Duke’s method, ear lobe is puncture, and the time is measured for bleeding to stop. This method is not recommended and cannot be standardized because it can cause a large local hematoma. In Ivy’s method, on the volar surface of the forearm, three punctures are made with a lancet (cutting depth 2-2.5 mm) under normal pulse pressure (between 30-40 mm Hg). A disadvantage of Ivy’s method is closure of puncture wound before stoppage of bleeding. In Template method, a special surgical blade is uses to make a larger cut of about 1 mm deep and 5 mm long. Although Template method is better than other methods, it may produce large scar and even form a keloid (irregular fibrous tissue formed at the site of a scar) in predisposed individuals. Ivy’s method for the measurement of bleeding time is described below.
Principle: On the volar surface of forearm, three normal punctures are made with the help of a lancet under normal pulse pressure (between 30-40 mm Hg). The average time is measured for bleeding to stop from the puncture sites.
In this test, required time is measured for the blood to clot in a glass test tube, kept at 37° C. Extend of duration of clotting time occurs only if severe deficiency of a clotting factor exists and is normal in moderate or mild deficiency.
This is a newly introduced screening test for platelet function that assesses both platelet adhesion and aggregation. This method uses an instrument called as PFA-100 in which anticoagulated whole blood is passed at a high shear rate through small membranes that have been coated with either collagen and epinephrine or collagen and ADP.
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Life history of malaria parasite consists of two cycles of development: asexual cycle or schizogony that occurs in humans and sexual cycle or sporogony that occurs in mosquitoes.
This occurs in the liver cells and red blood cells of infected humans, and therefore humans are the intermediate hosts of the malaria parasite (Schizogony refers to the process of reproduction in protozoa in which there is production of daughter cells by fission). The human cycle begins when infected female Anopheles mosquito bites a person and sporozoites are injected into the circulation. There are four stages of human cycle.
Inoculated sporozoites rapidly leave the circulation to enter the liver cells where they develop into hepatic (pre-erythrocytic) schizonts (Schizonts are cells undergoing schizogony). One sporozoite produces one tissue form. Hepatic schizonts rupture to release numerous merozoites in circulation (Merozoites are daughter cells produced after schizogony). Up to 40,000 merozoites are produced in the hepatic schizont.
In P. falciparum infection, all of the hepatic schizonts mature and rupture simultaneously; dormant forms do not persist in hepatocytes. In contrast, some of the sporozoites of P. vivax and P. ovale remain dormant after entering liver cells and develop into schizonts after some delay. Such persistent forms are called as hypnozoites; they develop into schizonts at a later date and are a cause of relapse.
Merozoites released from rupture of hepatic schizonts enter the red blood cells via specific surface receptors. These merozoites become trophozoites that utilize red cell contents for their metabolism. A brown-black granular pigment (malaria pigment or hemozoin) is produced due to breakdown of hemoglobin by malaria parasites. The fully formed trophozoite develops into a schizont by multiple nuclear and cytoplasmic divisions. Mature schizonts rupture to release merozoites, red cell contents, malarial toxins, and malarial pigment. (This pigment is taken up by monocytes in peripheral blood and by macrophages of reticulo-endothelial system. In severe cases, organs which are rich in macrophages like spleen, liver, lymph nodes, and bone marrow become slate-gray or black in color due to hemozoin pigment). Rupture of red cell schizonts corresponds with clinical attack of malaria. Released merozoites infect new red cells and enter another erythrocytic schizogony cycle. This leads to rapid amplification of plasmodia in the red cells of the human host. In P. falciparum, P. vivax, and P. ovale infections, cycle of schizogony lasts for 48 hours, while in P. malarie infection it lasts for 72 hours. Merozoites of P. vivax and P. ovale preferentially invade young red cells or reticulocytes while those of P. falciparum infect red cells of all ages. Senescent red cells are preferred by P. malariae.
P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae complete the erythrocyte schizogony in general circulation. Schizonts of P. falciparum induce membrane changes in red cells, which causes them to adhere to the capillary endothelial cells (cytoadherence). Therefore, in P. falciparum infection, erythrocyte schizogony is completed in capillaries of internal organs and usually only ring forms are seen in circulation.
After several cycles of erythrocytic schizogony, some merozoites, instead of developing into trophozoites and schizonts, transform into male and female gametocytes. These sexual forms are infective to mosquito and the person harboring them is called as a “carrier”. Gametocytes are not pathogenic for humans.
In P. vivax and P. ovale infections, some of the sporozoites in liver cells persist and remain dormant. These dormant forms in liver cells are called as hypnozoites. They become active and develop into schizonts a few days, months, or even years later. These schizonts rupture, release merozoites, and cause relapse. Exoerythrocytic schizogony is absent in P. falciparum infection and therefore relapse does not occur. Hence, P. vivax and P. ovale are called as relapsing plasmodia while P. falciparum and P. malariae are known as non-relapsing plasmodia.
The sexual cycle begins when a female Anopheles mosquito ingests mature male and female gametocytes during a blood meal. First, 4-8 microgametes are produced from one male gametocyte (microgametocyte) in the stomach of the mosquito; this is called as exflagellation. The female gametocyte (macrogametocyte) undergoes maturation to produce one macrogamete. By chemotaxis, microgametes are attracted toward the macrogamete; one of the microgametes fertilizes the macrogamete to produce a zygote. The zygote becomes motile and is called as ookinete. Ookinete penetrates the lining of the stomach and comes to lie on the outer surface of the stomach where it develops into an oocyst. On further growth and maturation, multiple sporozoites are formed within the oocyst. After complete maturation, oocyst ruptures to release sporozoites into the body cavity of the mosquito. Most of the sporozoites migrate to the salivary glands. Infection is transmitted to the humans by the bite of the mosquito through saliva when it takes a blood meal.
Reticulocytes are young or juvenile red cells released from the bone marrow into the bloodstream and that contain remnants of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and ribosomes but no nucleus. After staining with a supravital dye such as new methylene blue, RNA appears as blue precipitating granules or filaments within the red cells. Following supravital staining, any nonnucleated red cell containing 2 or more granules of bluestained material is considered as a reticulocyte (The College of American Pathology). Supravital staining refers to staining of cells in a living state before they are killed by fixation or drying or with passage of time. Reticulocyte count is performed by manual method.
A few drops of blood (collected in EDTA) are incubated with new methylene blue solution which stains granules of RNA in red cells. A thin smear is prepared on a glass slide from the mixture and reticulocytes are counted under the microscope. Number of reticulocytes is expressed as a percentage of red cells.
New methylene blue solution is prepared as follows:
Reagent should be kept stored in a refrigerator at 2-6°C and filtered before use.
Suitable alternatives to new methylene blue are brilliant cresyl blue and azure B.
Capillary blood or EDTA anticoagulated venous blood can be used.
(1) Take 2-3 drops of filtered new methylene blue solution in a 12 × 75 mm test tube.
(2) Add equal amount of blood and mix well.
(3) Keep the mixture at room temperature or at 37°C for 15 minutes.
(4) After gentle mixing, place a small drop from the mixture on a glass slide, prepare a thin smear, and allow to dry in the air.
(5) Examine under the microscope using oil-immersion objective. Mature red cells stain pale green blue. Reticulocytes show deep blue precipitates of fine granules and filaments in the form of a network (reticulum). Most immature reticulocytes show a large amount of precipitated material in the form of a mass, while the most mature reticulocytes show only a few granules or strands. Any nonnucleated red cell is considered as a reticulocyte if it contains 2 or more blue-stained particles of ribosomal RNA.
(6) Count 1000 red cells and note the number of red cells that are reticulocytes. Counting error is minimized if size of the microscopic field is reduced. This is achieved by using a Miller ocular disk inserted in the eyepiece; it divides the field into two squares (one nine times larger in size than the other). Reticulocytes are counted in both the squares and the red cells are counted in the smaller square.
(1) Reticulocyte percentage: The most common method of reporting is reticulocyte percentage which is calculated from the following formula:
Where NR is the Number of reticulocyte counted and NRBC is number of red blood cell counted.
Reference range is 0.5%-2.5% in adults and children. Reticulocyte count is higher in newborns.
(2) Absolute reticulocyte count = Reticulocyte percentage × Red cell count
Normal: 50,000 to 85,000/cmm
(3) Corrected reticulocyte count (Reticulocyte index)
Corrected reticulocyte count > 2% indicates reticulocyte release appropriate for the degree of anemia. If < 2%, reticulocyte release is inappropriate.
(4) Reticulocyte maturation production index
The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) measures the rate of settling (sedimentation) of erythrocytes in anticoagulated whole blood. Anticoagulated blood is allowed to stand in a glass tube for 1 hour and the length of column of plasma above the red cells is measured in millimeters; this corresponds to ESR. There are four different methods for the estimation of ESR.