Rotavirus Infection more likely in People with Type A Blood Group

According to a new research by scientists from the Baylor College of Medicine, certain strains of rotavirus may enter the abdominal tract by recognizing antigens associated with a person’s blood group. They show a particular affinity to those with a type A blood group. The study, which has been published in the latest issue of the journal Nature, shows an entirely different perspective of the mode of rotavirus infection of the gut.

According to Dr. B. V. Venkataram Prasad, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at BCM and the lead author of the study, it has been observed in animal models that the rotavirus attaches to the cells of the gut with the help of a bond between it and a terminal molecule of sialic acid, via a glycan. This bonding was however, not noticed in case of humans. Scientists were clueless about the mechanism through which rotavirus recognized a cellular glycan in humans.

The researchers conducted a glycan analysis to identify the glycans that interacted with the rotavirus. They were surprised to notice that the only glycan which interacted with the interactive site on the rotavirus, called as VP8, was type A blood group antigen. Type A blood group antigen does not have sialic acid. However, it bonded with the VP8 at the same place where sialic acid binds in animal models.

Based on their observations, the researchers have opined that people with blood group A are more likely to be infected by rotavirus. It is already known that the group A antigen promotes the binding of noro-virus and helicobacter pylori to the cells lining the gut. However, it was not known, until now, that the group A antigen does the same with the rotavirus too. Moreover, adding an antibody to the group A antigen interfered with the infection of rotavirus. 

Rotavirus infection leads to severe diarrhea and dehydration and claims almost 50, 000 lives annually. The study sheds a light on the mechanism though which rotavirus strain may gain entry from animals like horses and sheep into human beings.



Wednesday, May 2, 2012
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