Your blood type might make you more likely to get traveler’s diarrhea | Science News


Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Your blood type might make you more likely to get traveler’s diarrhea

A diarrhea-causing strain of E. coli gloms onto molecules found on type A blood cells

12:00pm, May 17, 2018
E. coli

BAD BLOOD A strain of E. coli (computer-generated image above) that causes severe diarrhea can latch onto intestinal cells more easily in people with type A blood, a discovery that hints at a potential vaccine.

E. coli has a type and it isn’t pretty. The bacterium is more likely to cause severe diarrhea in people with type A blood.

An illness-causing strain of E. coli secretes a protein that gloms onto the sugar molecules that decorate type A blood cells, but not type B or O cells. These sugar molecules also decorate cells lining the intestines of people with type A blood and appear to provide a handle for the bacterium to latch onto before injecting its diarrhea-causing toxins, researchers report May 17 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

There were hints that blood type was linked to the severity of E. coli infection. But a clear connection was lacking until now, says a team led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Collaborators at Johns Hopkins University gave 106 healthy volunteers water laced with a strain of E. coli isolated

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More on 2016 Top 10

From the Nature Index Paid Content