Predisposition for cholera of individuals with o blood group possible evolutionary significance

Roger I. Glass, Jan Holmgren, Charles E. Haley, M. R. Khan, Annmari Svennerholm, Barbara J. Stoll, K. M.Belayet Hossain, Robert E. Black, M. Yunus, Dhiman Barua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


At the Matlab Hospital of the international Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, the authors examined the blood groups of patients hospitalized between January and September 1979 for diarrheal disease due to a variety of bacterial and viral agents. A significant association was identified only for cholera, in which cholera patients were twice as likely to have blood group O and one-ninth as likely to have blood group AB as community controls. A follow-up study of family contacts of cholera patients, carried out between September 1980 and July 1982, indicated that blood group did not affect an individual's risk of having a culture-proven infection with V. cholerae 01 but was directly related to the severity of disease. Individuals with the most severe diarrhea compared with those with asymptomatic infection were more often of blood group O(68% versus 36%, p < 0.01) and less often of AB (0% versus 7%, p < 0.01). It was not possible to identify the molecular basis for this genetically related protection using biologic models of cholera that are currently available. The constant selective pressure of cholera against people of O blood group may account in part for the extremely low prevalence of O group genes and the high prevalence of B group genes found among the people living in the Gangetic Delta.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-796
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1985
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood groups
  • Cholera
  • Diarrhea
  • Vibrlo cholerae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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