The role of red blood cells in enhancing or preventing HIV infection and other diseases

16 May 2015

Aim. To highlight the apparently neglected role of erythrocyte antigens in the epidemiology of infectious diseases, especially HIV, with the prime objective of stimulating research in this area. Method. A literature search was performed on the PubMed for relevant papers from 1984 to 2013, the era covering active HIV research. This was achieved by using the phrases ?erythrocyte blood groups HIV? (81 papers) or ?red cell antigen, blood groups, and HIV? (60 papers). A manual Google Scholar search was done and supplemented by original papers referenced by various authors. However, the review was limited by the relative scarcity of papers on the subject, and only papers written in English were reviewed during the period October 2012 to September 2013. Results.Many communicable and noncommunicable diseases are associated with specific blood groups. Examples of these diseases are discussed in detail.HIV has been shown to bind to erythrocytes, and candidate erythrocyte-bindingmolecules andmechanisms are also discussed. Moreover, erythrocyte-HIV binding is associated with increased viral infectivity, thus, underscoring the need to study this phenomenon and its implications for HIV epidemiology. Conclusion. Erythrocyte antigens may be important in the pathogenesis and epidemiology of many diseases, including HIV.