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Does blood type change over time?

Author: 楊采縈Katherine

Will blood type change over time? Most people get the impression that blood type is determined by the genes inherent in the body, so it is believed that the blood type will not change. But in some rare circumstances, the blood type can actually change. Blood type changes can be roughly divided into two types: temporary changes and permanent changes.

 

Let's briefly go over the definition of blood types before we begin the introduction. The famous ABO gene is located on chromosome 9q34. Blood type is determined by the antigens presented on the surface of red blood cells. A blood type is indicated by the presence of an A antigen on the surface of the red blood cell; B and AB blood types are indicated by the presence of B and AB antigens, respectively. And type O’s red blood cells do not carry any antigens. After understanding how blood types are defined, we can start discussing blood type changes.

1. Temporary blood type change

These types of changes are temporary and incomplete, and are mainly caused by diseases. People can return to the original blood type once they recover. This kind of change is primarily brought on by a decline in the quantity of red blood cells in the body, which leads to a reduction in antigenicity and, in turn, changes the blood type that is being detected. Such as massive blood loss and cancer. Massive bleeding causes a direct reason for the decrease in the number of red blood cells, while cancer causes an indirect change. Because patients who undergo chemotherapy for cancer usually have low hemoglobin, low platelets, and low red blood cells. A condition other than cancer and severe blood loss is an immune disorder because the majority of immune disorders contain antibodies that weaken the ABO antigen and obstruct blood type testing. At present, there are also cases of blood type changes after high fever that have been found in medicine, but the specific reasons are still under study. However, this type of change does not mean that the blood type has really changed, but that the "detected" blood type is different.

2. Permanent blood type change

The red blood cells and white blood cells in human blood are all differentiated from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow. An organ transplant involving bone marrow is necessary when the patient's hematopoietic stem cells are unable to carry out basic hematopoietic functions. Bone marrow transplantation can be divided into autologous transplantation and allogeneic transplantation. The source of the former is the patient's own stem cells, so the blood type will not change after bone marrow transplantation; while the latter, if the transplantation is successful, the patient's blood type will change to the donor’s blood type about three months after the transplantation. The blood type won't change after the transplant, of course, if the donor and recipient both have the same blood type.


In conclusion, bone marrow transplantation is currently the only cause of permanent change in blood type we found right now. Of course, living creatures still have many secrets that humans have not understood, and it is not ruled out that other possibilities will be discovered in the future.



References

"Will blood type change?". Peking University People's Hospital. www.pkuph.cn/sxk_jkkp_detail/15321.html.Accessed 19 Jan. 2023.

Rakul, Nambiar, et al. “Blood Group Change in Acute Myeloid Leukemia.” PubMed Central, 30 Jan. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5242122/.

(Image source: https://reurl.cc/91e9bx)



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