A diarrhea-causing strain of E. coli gloms onto molecules found on type A blood cells
Alissa Eckert and Jennifer Oosthuizen/CDC
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