Sahel Medical Journal

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The Influence of Adrenal Secretons on Leucocyte Distribution and Counts: Investigation into the Aetiology of Idiopathic Benign Ethnic Leuko-Neutropenia

ED Nwobodo, P Ndukuba


Many apparently, health Africans present with leuko-neutropenia. The origin of the so-called benign ethnic leuko-neutropenia remains uncertain. Africans are also, known to have small adrenal cortices. Cortisol is the major secretion of the adrenal cortex, which profoundly influences leukocyte profile. We investigated the influence of Adrenalectomy (ADX) on the leukocyte distribution of albino rats, and correlated the plasma cortisol level of apparently healthy adult male Nigerians (n=20) with their leukocyte distribution. ADX caused a re-distribution of leukocyte total and differential counts in our animal model of albino rats producing lymphocyte dominance and relative leuko-neutropenia. The plasma cortisol levels of our subjects showed significant negative correlation with lymphocyte frequency and a significant positive correlation with neutrophil and total leukocyte cunts.

These findings suggest that lymphocyte dominance, relative neutropenia and relative leucopenia, which are common features of some leukopenic Africans can be accounted for by the level of plasma cortisol. We speculate that ethnic leuko-neutropenia may be due to adrenocortical hypofunction, which reportedly occurs in Africans.

(Key words: Adrenal hypofunction, Leucopenia, Nigerians).

Sahel Medical Journal Vol.7(1) 2004: 28-31
AJOL African Journals Online