Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Advances in Hematology
Volume 2016, Article ID 5368793, 4 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/5368793
Research Article

Relative Susceptibilities of ABO Blood Groups to Plasmodium falciparum Malaria in Ghana

1Department of Biomedical and Forensic Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana
2University Hospital, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana
3Vector Genetics Laboratory, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute, Atomic Energy Commission, Accra, Ghana

Received 21 November 2015; Revised 19 January 2016; Accepted 20 January 2016

Academic Editor: Aldo Roccaro

Copyright © 2016 Richmond Afoakwah et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The clinical outcome of falciparum malaria in endemic areas is influenced by erythrocyte polymorphisms including the ABO blood groups. Studies have reported association of ABO blood group to resistance, susceptibility, and severity of P. falciparum malaria infection. Individuals with blood group “A” have been found to be highly susceptible to falciparum malaria whereas blood group “O” is said to confer protection against complicated cases. We analyzed samples from 293 young children less than six years old with malaria in the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana. It was observed that group O was present in about 16.1% of complicated cases weighed against 40.9% of uncomplicated controls. Individuals with complicated malaria were about twice likely to be of blood groups A and B compared to group O (A versus O, OR = 1.90, 95% CI = 1.59–2.26, ; B versus O, OR = 1.82. 95% CI = 1.57–2.23, ). Blood group O participants with complicated diseases had low parasitaemia compared to the other blood groups (). This may give blood group O individuals a survival advantage over the other groups in complicated malaria as suggested. Participants with complicated falciparum malaria were generally anaemic and younger than those with uncomplicated disease.

1. Introduction

Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a known cause of morbidity and mortality especially in children of Sub-Saharan Africa [1]. The clinical outcome of falciparum malaria in endemic areas is, among other factors, associated with erythrocyte polymorphisms [2, 3] including the ABO blood groups. ABO blood group refers to a system of carbohydrate antigens expressed on human erythrocytes [4] and other human cells. The “A” and “B” antigens on erythrocytes are trisaccharides [5]. All erythrocytes possess an “H” disaccharide on their surfaces (except the rare Bombay phenotype, which has no ABO antigens) [4]. Individuals with blood groups “A” and “B” have the “A” and “B” antigens, respectively, together with the “H” antigen. Blood group “AB” individuals have both “A” and “B” antigens together with the “H.” Blood group “O” individuals, however, have neither “A” nor “B” antigens but “H.”

Numerous associations have been reported between the ABO blood group system and some disease conditions such as skin cancer [6], schistosomiasis [7], onchocerciasis [8], and HIV infection [9]. There are also reports on association of ABO blood group with susceptibility, resistance, and severity of P. falciparum malaria infection [1015]. Individuals with blood group “A” have been found to be highly susceptible to falciparum malaria whereas blood group “O” is said to confer protection against complicated cases [1113]. Low parasitaemia and uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria cases among blood group “O” individuals have been observed [11, 14, 15].

These differences in susceptibility and severity of P. falciparum malaria infection among the “A,” “B,” “AB,” and “O” blood groups have been attributed to rosetting of parasitized erythrocytes and cytoadherence [1619]. Rosetting contributes to the pathogenesis of severe malaria by obstructing microvascular blood flow [20]. Studies have shown that rosetting is reduced in blood group “O” erythrocytes compared with the non-O blood groups (A, B, and AB) in P. falciparum laboratory [21, 22] and field isolates [19, 23]. Rosettes may form in blood group “O” cells but these rosettes are smaller and unstable compared to rosettes formed in non-O blood groups [21, 24, 25]. It is, thus, presumed that blood group “O” may be a protective factor against severe malaria [25].

Some studies have also reported the absence of significant association between ABO blood groups and P. falciparum malaria [7, 8, 2630], so that the relationship between ABO blood group and malaria has not been clearly defined [4]. This study aimed to confirm the association, or otherwise, between blood groups and complicated falciparum malaria.

2. Methods

The study was conducted from January to April 2010, at the outpatient department of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana. The study was reviewed and cleared by the University of Cape Coast Ethics Review Board. The study was explained to parents/guardians of prospective participants and informed consent was sought from them. A participant was eligible for inclusion into the study if his/her age at the next birthday was 5 years or less and had been diagnosed to have falciparum malaria.

Five milliliters (5 mL) of blood sample was collected from each patient into EDTA tubes by trained and licensed medical laboratory technologists. Sterile techniques and disposable, single use materials were used at all times.

The hemoglobin level of each participant was determined using a Hematology Analyzer (Abbott Cell-Dyn CD-1800). Giemsa-stained thick and thin blood films were prepared for each sample collected, from which parasite density and species identification were, respectively, determined. Species confirmation of the malaria parasite was done with first response PfHRP-II malaria rapid-diagnostic (RDT) kit. Cerebral malaria (involving drowsiness, impaired consciousness, recurrent convulsion, and/or unrousable coma) and hyperparasitaemia (with parasite density ≥6%) were considered the primary criteria for defining complicated malaria.

ABO blood groups were typed by the agglutination method using commercial antisera (Span Diagnostics Ltd., India).

Data obtained were analyzed with Minitab Statistical Software version 15. Results were presented as mean ± standard deviation or percentages where appropriate. Mean values were compared using either Student’s -test or One-Way ANOVA. In addition, odds ratios and 95% confidence interval were determined. In all the analyses, values were considered to be significant when .

3. Results

A total of 293 young children were recruited for the study. Of these, 112 (41.3%) had complicated falciparum malaria, whereas 181 (58.7%) had uncomplicated falciparum cases. The characteristics of the participants are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1: Characteristics of participants.

Respondents in the complicated group were younger and anaemic and experienced higher parasitaemia compared with their counterparts in the uncomplicated group (; Table 1). Of the 293 participants, 92 (38.5%), 74 (30.96%), 72 (30.13%), and 55 (23.01%) had blood groups O, B, A, and AB, respectively. Blood groups of the participants influenced the development of complicated falciparum malaria as shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Blood group distribution in complicated cases and uncomplicated controls.

The chance of developing complicated falciparum malaria was least in blood group O compared to blood groups A, B, and AB (Table 3).

Table 3: Effect of blood group on developing complicated falciparum malaria.

4. Discussion

In high transmission areas like Ghana, by age six children have survived several episodes of malaria and hence developed some immunity to the infection [3032]. Increasing age has, thus, been linked to lower parasite densities and consequently less complicated disease [33] making older children and adults in high transmission areas have less readily detectable infections [34]. We, therefore, chose to recruit children younger than six years of age to remove the confounding effect age-dependent immunity to malaria would have on the study. Indeed our data supported this notion since participants who had complicated falciparum malaria were significantly younger than those who had uncomplicated disease.

Adherence of P. falciparum parasitized erythrocytes to the endothelia of blood vessels is key to the pathogenesis of complicated disease [2, 31]. Antigens of blood groups A and B have been suggested to play important roles in cytoadherence [32]. Due to the absence of A and B antigens on the surface of blood group O erythrocytes, cytoadherence, and hence rosetting and sequestration, is reduced in individuals with blood group O [17]. It has been observed that blood group O individuals are less likely to suffer from complicated falciparum malaria [11, 15, 25, 35, 36].

In this study, we observed that only 18 (16.1%) of the 112 participants with complicated disease had blood group O, whereas as much as 74 (40.9%) of the 181 participants with uncomplicated disease had blood group O. This observation gives credence to results of previous studies [11, 15, 25, 35, 36]. Individuals with complicated malaria were about twice likely to be of blood group A or B compared to group O.

The low parasitaemia observed in this study, together with reduced rosetting and cytoadherence observed by others [17, 2729], may give the blood group O individuals suffering from falciparum malaria a good prognosis compared with those with other blood groups. In addition, this observation supports the view that blood group O individuals may have a survival advantage over non-O individuals notably in complicated cases of falciparum malaria [27]. However, the comparable levels of hemoglobin observed among individuals in the various blood groups in both complicated and uncomplicated cases suggest increased rate of destruction of red blood cells (RBCs) in blood group “O” individuals compared to the others. The significance of anaemia in the pathogenesis of complicated falciparum malaria has been documented [16, 19]. Destruction of both parasitized and nonparasitized erythrocytes as well as rosetting and sequestration of parasitized erythrocytes has been cited to be the major cause of severe anaemia in complicated falciparum malaria [16, 19]. Our data in the present study appear to suggest that the RBCs of blood group “O” individuals were more susceptible to falciparum-induced hemolysis than the RBCs of individuals of other blood groups. Thus, the apparent protection offered by blood group “O” may be lost at relatively higher levels of parasitaemia. This observation is important for the malaria control effort in Ghana.

5. Conclusion

Ghanaian children with blood group O may have some protection against complicated falciparum malaria and may possess a survival advantage over their counterparts with other blood groups. However, this protection may be lost at high parasitaemia due to enhanced RBC destruction. Younger children are also more prone to developing complicated falciparum malaria than older ones.

Conflict of Interests

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.

References

  1. WHO, World Malaria Report 2008, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2008.
  2. L. H. Miller, D. I. Baruch, K. Marsh, and O. K. Doumbo, “The pathogenic basis of malaria,” Nature, vol. 415, no. 6872, pp. 673–679, 2002. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  3. G. Pasvol, “How many pathways for invasion of the red blood cell by the malaria parasite?” Trends in Parasitology, vol. 19, no. 10, pp. 430–432, 2003. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  4. M.-P. Loscertales, S. Owens, J. O'Donnell, J. Bunn, X. Bosch-Capblanch, and B. J. Brabin, “ABO blood group phenotypes and Plasmodium falciparum malaria: unlocking a pivotal mechanism,” Advances in Parasitology, vol. 65, pp. 1–50, 2007. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  5. G. Daniels, “The molecular genetics of blood group polymorphism,” Transplant Immunology, vol. 14, no. 3-4, pp. 143–153, 2005. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  6. U. Tursen, E. N. Tiftik, S. Unal et al., “Relationship between ABO blood groups and skin cancers,” Dermatology Online Journal, vol. 11, no. 3, article 44, 2005. View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  7. O. O. Kassim and G. C. Ejezie, “ABO blood groups in malaria and schistosomiasis haematobium,” Acta Tropica, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 179–184, 1982. View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  8. K. N. Opera, “Onchocerciasis and ABO blood group status: a field based study,” International Journal of Tropical Medicine, vol. 2, pp. 123–125, 2007. View at Google Scholar
  9. A. A. Abdulazeez, E. B. Alo, and S. N. Rebecca, “Carriage rate of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection among different ABO and Rhesus blood groups in Adamawa state, Nigeria,” Biomedical Research, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 41–44, 2008. View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  10. T. Zerihun, A. Degarege, and B. Erko, “Association of ABO blood group and Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Dore Bafeno Area, Southern Ethiopia,” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 289–294, 2011. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  11. P. R. Fischer and P. Boone, “Short report: severe malaria associated with blood group,” The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, vol. 58, no. 1, pp. 122–123, 1998. View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  12. B. Lell, J. May, R. J. Schmidt-Ott et al., “The role of red blood cell polymorphisms in resistance and susceptibility to malaria,” Clinical Infectious Diseases, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 794–799, 1999. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  13. B. Beiguelman, F. P. Alves, M. M. Moura et al., “The association of genetic markers and malaria infection in the Brazilian Western Amazonian region,” Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, vol. 98, no. 4, pp. 455–460, 2003. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  14. F. Migot-Nabias, L. E. Mombo, A. J. F. Luty et al., “Human genetic factors related to susceptibility to mild malaria in Gabon,” Genes and Immunity, vol. 1, no. 7, pp. 435–441, 2000. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  15. M.-P. Loscertales and B. J. Brabin, “ABO phenotypes and malaria related outcomes in mothers and babies in the Gambia: a role for histo-blood groups in placental malaria?” Malaria Journal, vol. 5, article 72, 6 pages, 2006. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  16. J. Carlson, H. Helmby, M. Wahlgren et al., “Human cerebral malaria: association with erythrocyte rosetting and lack of anti-rosetting antibodies,” The Lancet, vol. 336, no. 8729, pp. 1457–1460, 1990. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  17. P. Ringwald, F. Peyron, J. P. Lepers et al., “Parasite virulence factors during P. falciparum malaria: rosetting, cytoadherence, and modulation of cytoadherence by cytokines,” Infection and Immunity, vol. 61, pp. 5198–5204, 1993. View at Google Scholar
  18. A. Thakur and I. C. Verma, “Malaria and ABO blood groups,” Indian Journal of Malariology, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 241–244, 1992. View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  19. A. Rowe, J. Obeiro, C. I. Newbold, and K. Marsh, “Plasmodium falciparum rosetting is associated with malaria severity in Kenya,” Infection and Immunity, vol. 63, no. 6, pp. 2323–2326, 1995. View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  20. D. K. Kaul, E. F. Roth Jr., R. L. Nagel, R. J. Howard, and S. M. Handunnetti, “Rosetting of Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells with uninfected red blood cells enhances microvascular obstruction under flow conditions,” Blood, vol. 78, no. 3, pp. 812–819, 1991. View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  21. J. Carlson and M. Wahlgren, “Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte rosetting is mediated by promiscuous lectin-like interactions,” Journal of Experimental Medicine, vol. 176, no. 5, pp. 1311–1317, 1992. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  22. K. T. Chotivanich, R. Udomsangpetch, B. Pipitaporn et al., “Rosetting characteristics of uninfected erythrocytes from healthy individuals and malaria patients,” Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, vol. 92, no. 1, pp. 45–56, 1998. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  23. R. Udomsangpetch, J. Todd, J. Carlson, and B. M. Greenwood, “The effects of hemoglobin genotype and ABO blood group on the formation of rosettes by Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells,” The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 149–153, 1993. View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  24. A. Barragan, P. G. Kremsner, M. Wahlgren, and J. Carlson, “Blood group ‘A’ antigen is a coreceptor in Plasmodium falciparum rosetting,” Infection and Immunity, vol. 68, no. 5, pp. 2971–2975, 2000. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  25. J. A. Rowe, I. G. Handel, M. A. Thera et al., “Blood group O protects against severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria through the mechanism of reduced rosetting,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 104, no. 44, pp. 17471–17476, 2007. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  26. S. K. Martin, L. H. Miller, C. U. Hicks, A. David-West, C. Ugbode, and M. Deane, “Frequency of blood group antigens in Nigerian children with falciparum malaria,” Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, vol. 73, no. 2, pp. 216–218, 1979. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  27. R. A. Bayoumi, A. H. Bashir, and N. H. Abdulhadi, “Resistance to falciparum malaria among adults in central Sudan,” The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 45–55, 1986. View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  28. D. O. Akinboye and A. F. Ogunrinade, “Malaria and loaisis among blood donors at Ibadan, Nigeria,” Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, vol. 81, no. 3, pp. 398–399, 1987. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  29. F. Montoya, M. Restrepo, A. E. Montoya, and W. Rojas, “Blood groups and malaria,” Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 33–38, 1994. View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  30. C. J. Uneke, O. Ogbu, and V. Nwojiji, “Potential risk of induced malaria by blood transfusion in South-eastern Nigeria,” McGill Journal of Medicine, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 8–13, 2006. View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  31. I. W. Sherman, S. Eda, and E. Winograd, “Cytoadherence and sequestration in Plasmodium falciparum: defining the ties that bind,” Microbes and Infection, vol. 5, no. 10, pp. 897–909, 2003. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  32. C. M. Cserti and W. H. Dzik, “The ABO blood group system and Plasmodium falciparum malaria,” Blood, vol. 110, no. 7, pp. 2250–2258, 2007. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  33. W. Sama, S. Owusu-Agyei, I. Felger, K. Dietz, and T. Smith, “Age and seasonal variation in the transition rates and detectability of Plasmodium falciparum malaria,” Parasitology, vol. 132, no. 1, pp. 13–21, 2006. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  34. L. C. Okell, T. Bousema, J. T. Griffin, A. L. Ouédraogo, A. C. Ghani, and C. J. Drakeley, “Factors determining the occurrence of submicroscopic malaria infections and their relevance for control,” Nature Communications, vol. 3, article 1237, 2012. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  35. S. L. Pathirana, H. K. Alles, S. Bandara et al., “ABO-blood-group types and protection against severe, Plasmodium falciparum malaria,” Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, vol. 99, no. 2, pp. 119–124, 2005. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus
  36. Z. Tekeste and B. Petros, “The ABO blood group and Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Awash, Metehara and Ziway areas, Ethiopia,” Malaria Journal, vol. 9, article 280, 2010. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar · View at Scopus