To investigate the effect of seasonal variation on adult clinical laboratory parameters in Rwanda, Zambia, and Uganda and determine its implications for HIV prevention and other clinical trials.
Volunteers in a cross-sectional study to establish laboratory reference intervals were asked to return for a seasonal visit after the local season had changed from dry to rainy or vice versa. Volunteers had to be clinically healthy, not pregnant and negative for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and syphilis infection at both visits. At each visit, blood was taken for measurement of hemoglobin, haematocrit, mean corpuscular volume, red blood cells, platelets, total white blood cells (WBC), neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, basophils, CD4/CD8 T cells, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, direct bilirubin, total bilirubin, total immunoglobulin gamma, total protein, creatinine, total amylase, creatine phosphokinase and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). Consensus dry season reference intervals were applied to rainy season values (and vice versa) and the proportion of ‘out-of-range’ values determined. Percentage differences between dry and rainy season parameter mean values were estimated.
In this cohort of 903 volunteers, less than 10.0% of consensus parameter (except LDH) values in one season were “out-of-range” in the other. Twenty-two (22) percent of rainy season LDH values fell outside of the consensus dry season interval with the higher values observed in the rainy season. Variability between consensus seasonal means ranged from 0.0% (total WBC, neutrophils, monocytes, basophils, and direct bilirubin) to 40.0% (eosinophils). Within sites, the largest seasonal variations were observed for monocytes (Masaka, 11.5%), LDH (Lusaka, 21.7%), and basophils (Kigali, 22.2%).
Seasonality had minimal impact on adult clinical laboratory parameter values in Rwanda, Zambia, and Uganda. Seasonal variation may not be an important factor in the evaluation of adult clinical laboratory parameters in HIV prevention and other clinical trials in these countries.