What is the role of the sucrose lysis test in the workup of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH)?

Updated: Jan 02, 2019
  • Author: Emmanuel C Besa, MD; Chief Editor: Koyamangalath Krishnan, MD, FRCP, FACP  more...
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Answer

The sugar water or sucrose lysis test uses the ionic strength of serum that is reduced by adding an iso-osmotic solution of sucrose, which then activates the classic complement pathway, and complement-sensitive cells are lysed. This test is less specific but more sensitive for PNH than the Ham test, because some RBCs hemolyze from autoimmune hemolytic anemias, leukemia, and aplastic anemia to a minor degree. Although the tests are inexpensive and simple to perform, they are more labor intensive and less sensitive due to the short half-life of circulating PNH RBCs.


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