3. The ABO blood groups

  1. Geoff Daniels PhD, FRCPath Consultant Clinical Scientist and Head of Diagnostics1 and
  2. Imelda Bromilow MSc, CBiol Scientific Consultant2

Published Online: 6 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118688915.ch3

Essential Guide to Blood Groups, Third Edition

Essential Guide to Blood Groups, Third Edition

How to Cite

Daniels, G. and Bromilow, I. (eds) (2013) The ABO blood groups, in Essential Guide to Blood Groups, Third Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118688915.ch3

Editor Information

  1. 1

    IBGRL, Bristol Institute for Transfusion Services, NHS Blood and Transplant, Bristol, UK

  2. 2

    Liverpool, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 6 SEP 2013
  2. Published Print: 3 SEP 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118688922

Online ISBN: 9781118688915



  • ABO blood group system;
  • gene frequencies;
  • H-deficient red cells;
  • phenotypes;
  • transfusion medicine


ABO is considered a blood group system because it was discovered on red cells and its antigens are readily detected, by haemagglutination techniques, on red cells. The four phenotypes A, B, O, and AB are present in most populations, but their frequencies differ substantially throughout the world. ABO is the most important blood group system in transfusion medicine, because transfusion of ABO incompatible red cells will almost always result in symptoms of a haemolytic transfusion reaction (HTR) and may cause disseminated intravascular coagulation, renal failure, and death. The genetic basis for oligosaccharide blood groups is fundamentally different from that of the protein blood groups. Group A people may acquire a B antigen and become group AB, although the B antigen is generally weak and there is some weakening of the A antigen. Some examples of associations between ABO group and disease include HDFN, leukaemia, and bacterial-induced acquired B.