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Author Topic: What is the evolutionary basis of blood groups?  (Read 4321 times)

Ronald Kaltenbaugh

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What is the evolutionary basis of blood groups?
« on: 01/10/2011 15:01:01 »
Ronald Kaltenbaugh  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hello Naked Scientists,

First, thanks for a truly great podcast.  I have some questions on blood types.

What is the difference between blood types and is the wrong type better than nothing if your type isn't available?

Do other animals have blood types?

What is the evolutionary basis for blood types and how did they form?

Ron Kaltenbaugh
Jefferson, MD USA

P.S. Blood would be a great topic for an episode.  Donating blood, types of blood cells, research on synthetic blood, and so much more could be covered.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 01/10/2011 15:01:01 by _system »


 

Offline cheryl j

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What is the evolutionary basis of blood groups?
« Reply #1 on: 29/10/2011 03:38:28 »
Incompatible blood (giving A blood to an O person for example) is never better than nothing because the immune system recognizes it immediately, and the reaction is severe enough to kill you. The only alternative is replacing the volume lost with saline, which if nothing else, maintains blood pressure and gets whatever red blood cells the patient still does have to the organs of the body until compatible blood can be given.

I don't know if all animals have blood types, but other primates do, and supposedly, you'd be better off getting compatible blood from a chimp than incompatible blood from a human. Chimps have mostly A blood, occasionally O but never B. Gorillas have mostly group B, occasionally O, but never A. 

I'm not sure what evolutionary advantage one type would have over another, but A and B antigens are also found elsewhere in nature. One theory is that antigens on red blood cells help the immune system recognize self from non-self.
 

Offline CliffordK

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What is the evolutionary basis of blood groups?
« Reply #2 on: 29/10/2011 22:09:01 »
I'm not sure what evolutionary advantage one type would have over another, but A and B antigens are also found elsewhere in nature. One theory is that antigens on red blood cells help the immune system recognize self from non-self.

There is likely a benefit of not everyone expressing identical antigens.  If all antigens were identical, then it would be too easy for a disease to mimmic the "self" recognition, and cause chaos within the body.  As it is, that would only work for some of the population.

Keep in mind that blood transfusions don't occur naturally, except perhaps for the issues that humans have with Rho Positive vs Rho Negative during childbirth.

 
 

Online Bored chemist

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What is the evolutionary basis of blood groups?
« Reply #3 on: 30/10/2011 09:42:01 »
My guess is that it's evolution's way of ensuring as bit of biodiversity within the species.
If we were all the same then we would be much more susceptible, as a group, to infection.
 

Offline diverjohn

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What is the evolutionary basis of blood groups?
« Reply #4 on: 31/10/2011 06:57:01 »
Some societies believe (eg the Japanese) believe blood types affect personality, though I have read no study to support it.
More conventionally, blood types are related to immunity.
Blood type is determined by the presence of certain sugar molecules on the surface of red blood cells.
From memory, I recall persons having type B blood have some immunity to bubonic plague, as shown by the higher-than-expected incidence of type B blood in areas of the world where bubonic plague still occurs.
I have type O blood, which apparently gives resistance to pancreatic cancer and to stomach ulcers but not to cholera.
type AB offers resistance to cholera
those having type A blood are at greater risk of suffering heart disease because type A blood clots more easily than the other types.
(info at http://www.eupedia.com/forum/showthread.php?25371-ABO-blood-group-and-disease-resistance [nofollow])
Interestingly, one's blood type may be changed by accepting a bone marrow transplant from someone having a different blood type.
 

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What is the evolutionary basis of blood groups?
« Reply #4 on: 31/10/2011 06:57:01 »

 

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