A new study from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston has revealed human blood type may play a role in how prone individuals are to contracting rotavirus. The virus is one of the common culprits of gastrointestinal upset, and is otherwise known as the stomach bug.
Results from the study show people with blood types A and AB are more susceptible to rotavirus. Blood cells in these individuals contain a specific antigen which allows the virus to attach easily to the cell. This special antigen, known as A-antigen, is also present on the intestinal tract lining. Once the virus has attached in the intestines, the illness begins to progress.
(photo via Victor Habbick)
While this does prove people with blood types A and AB are most susceptible to certain strains of rotavirus, the studied forms of the illness were not the most common infectious strains. It is possible that people with type O or B blood are more receptive to the most common strands than are types A and AB.
B. V. Venkataram Prasad, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the college told LiveScience the study didn’t examine large populations to see if people suffering from the stomach blood had a common blood type. The research only examined blood cells in a laboratory setting, not in real world scenarios. The experiments showed cells with A-antigens bonded easily to rotavirus, and by blocking A-antigen rotavirus did not reach the infectious stage.
Previous studies have linked blood type with susceptibility toward diseases like Helicobacter pylori and norovirus. Study authors hope that this discovery will prompt further research and perhaps reveal if blood types evolved with the purpose of warding off certain pathogens.
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