Role of ABO blood system in COVID?19: Findings from a southern Italian study

AbstractBackground

COVID-19 is a worldwide infection caused by SARS-CoV-2 and infects humans by binding to the ACE2 receptor. Blood group ABO glycoproteins can influence the binding of the virus to ACE2. The role of ABO blood system in the susceptibility to infection as well as in the clinical outcome of infected patients is still controversial and needs to be clarified.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective study of 167 patients positive for SARS-CoV-2 who underwent nasopharyngeal swab, and of a control group represented by 891 subjects negative for SARS-CoV-2, to assess the association between ABO and Rh blood system and occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, clinical presentation, and outcome of disease.

Results

In the cohort of patients positive for SARS-CoV-2, no statistically significant difference in the distribution of ABO blood types compared with controls was observed. Patients with blood type A had a higher risk of developing symptomatic disease (p =?0.002; odds ratio [OR = 3.592]; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.576–8.187) compared to patients with blood types B, AB, and O. Patients with blood types B (p =?0.021; OR = 0.293; 95%CI = 0.099–0.869) and O (p =?0.018; OR = 0.417; 95%CI = 0.199–0.871) showed a lower risk in comparison to the other groups.

The clinical progression to mild/moderate and severe/critical disease and the mortality showed no association. Moreover, no relationship with Rh blood type was found.

Conclusions

Our findings support a role of ABO blood type in the development of symptomatic disease with a higher risk in subjects with blood type A and a protective effect of blood types B and O. Blood types do not seem, however, to play a role in susceptibility, progression to severe disease, and death.