BACKGROUND: Susceptibility to Covid-19 has been found to be associated with ABO blood group, with O type individuals being at a lower risk. However, the underlying mechanism has not been elucidated. Here, we aimed to test the hypothesis that Covid-19 patients might have lower levels of ABO antibodies than non-infected individuals as they could offer some degree of protection.
METHODS: After showing that the viral spike protein harbors the ABO glycan epitopes when produced by cells expressing the relevant glycosyltransferases, like upper respiratory tract epithelial cells, we enrolled 290 patients with Covid-19 and 276 asymptomatic controls to compare their levels of natural ABO blood group antibodies.
RESULTS: We found significantly lower IgM anti-A+ anti-B agglutination scores in blood group O patients (76.93 vs 88.29, P-value = 0.034) and lower levels of anti-B (24.93 vs 30.40, P-value = 0.028) and anti-A antibodies (28.56 vs 36.50, P-value = 0.048) in blood group A and blood group B patients, respectively, compared to controls.
CONCLUSION: In this study, we showed that ABO antibodies levels are significantly lower in Covid-19 patients compared to controls. These findings could indicate that patients with low levels of ABO antibodies are at higher risk of being infected.