This blood group is at greater risk of severe E. coli infection | health | Hindustan Times
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This blood group is at greater risk of severe E. coli infection

A new study shows that E. coli strain affects people belonging to certain blood groups more than others. Find out if you are at risk.

health Updated: May 21, 2018 10:33 IST
Soma Das
Soma Das
Hindustan Times
The findings show the bacteria causes more severe disease in people with blood type A, but not blood type O or B.
The findings show the bacteria causes more severe disease in people with blood type A, but not blood type O or B.(Shutterstock)

The bacteria E. coli is associated with travellers’ diarrhoea and often afflicts children in underdeveloped areas of the world. A new study done by the Washington University in St. Louis shows that the bacteria causes more severe disease in people with blood type A, but not blood type O or B. The reason: the bacteria releases a protein that latches onto intestinal cells in people with blood type A, but not blood type O or B.

You are at greater risk of E. coli infection in summer, since there is a spike in the consumption of juices, cold drinks and water bought off the streets. And even ice samples have been shown to be spiked with E. coli bacteria.

“We think this protein is responsible for this blood-group difference in disease severity,” said James Fleckenstein, Associate Professor at the Washington University. “A vaccine targeting this protein would potentially protect individuals at highest risk for severe disease.”

For the study, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, the team gave healthy volunteers a dose of an E. coli strain. They observed the volunteers for five days and obtained data and blood samples from 100 people and found that people with blood type A got sick sooner and more seriously than those with other blood types.

The researchers also found that the bacteria produces a specific protein that sticks to A-type sugars — but not B or O-type sugars. (Shutterstock)

More than eight of 10 (81%) blood group A people developed diarrhoea that required treatment, as compared with about half of people with blood group B or O. The researchers also found that the bacteria produces a specific protein that sticks to A-type sugars — but not B or O-type sugars — on intestinal cells. Since the protein also sticks to E. coli, it effectively fastens the bacteria to the intestinal wall, making it easy for them to deliver diarrhoea-causing toxins to intestinal cells.

The effect of blood group in people infected with this strain of E. coli was striking and significant, but it doesn’t mean people should change their behaviour based on blood type, the researchers said.

(With inputs from IANS)

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