A new cytochemical technique, sensitive to altered lysosomal membrane permeability of blood neutrophils, has been evaluated as a screening test for bacterial infection. This technique, for the lysosomal enzymes acid phosphatase and chloroacetate esterase, was compared with the neutrophil alkaline phosphatase and nitroblue tetrazolium tests. The mean score for each method was significantly higher in infected patients than in normal controls. There was, however, considerable overlap of individual scores between infected patients and ill, but uninfected, patients. This overlap limits the diagnostic value of existing cytochemical screening methods.
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