People with blood type O may have a significantly lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes than those with blood types A, B or AB, according to data published in Diabetologia.

Studies on blood groups and their association with diabetes have been small and therefore unable to provide definitive results. For this study, the researchers followed 82,104 women from the large, prospective E3N cohort from 1990 to 2008. They specifically evaluated the relationship of ABO blood type (A, B, AB and O), Rhesus factor and a combination of the two with type 2 diabetes.

Compared with group O blood, women with group A blood were 10% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes (HR=1.10; 95% CI, 1.02-1.18) and those with group B blood were 21% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes (HR=1.21; 95% CI, 1.07-1.36). Those with group AB blood were 17% more likely to develop the disease, but this association did not reach statistical significance (HR=1.17; 95% CI, 0.99-1.39). There appeared to be no difference in type 2 diabetes risk between Rhesus positive and negative groups (HR=0.96; 95% CI, 0.88-1.05).


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When using the universal donors (blood type O–) as a reference category, the researchers found an increased risk for women with blood types A+ (HR=1.17; 95% CI, 1.02-1.35), A– (HR=1.22; 95% CI, 1.03-1.45) and AB+ (HR=1.26; 95% CI, 1.02-1.57). The most noticeable difference, however, was a 35% increased risk for type 2 diabetes in women with blood type B+ (HR=1.35; 95% CI, 1.13-1.60).

These associations remained even after adjustment for fasting plasma glucose and lipid concentrations in a case–control subsample, according to the data.

“The present study shows for the first time in a large prospective cohort that specific ABO blood groups are associated with an increased type 2 diabetes risk,” study researcher Guy Fagherazzi, PhD, Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at the Gustave Roussy Institute in Villejuif, France, said in a press release.

While the mechanisms behind this link are currently unclear, it has been suggested that the human ABO locus may influence endothelial or inflammation markers, the researchers wrote. Additionally, ABO grouping may be related to various molecules associated with type 2 diabetes or it may also be a factor in determining the overall gut microbe composition, which affects metabolism.

“Our findings support a strong relationship between blood group and diabetes risk, with participants with the O blood type having a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Therefore, the effects of blood groups should be investigated in future clinical and epidemiological studies on diabetes,” Dr. Fagherazzi said.

“Further pathophysiological research is also needed to determine why the individuals with blood type O have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.”

Reference

  1. Fagherazzi G et al. Diabetologia. 2014;doi:10.1007/s00125-014-3472-9.