Lectins as markers for blood grouping

Med Sci Monit. 2002 Dec;8(12):RA293-300.


Lectins are unique proteins of varying biological importance. They are characterized by specific binding to carbohydrate residues, whether monosaccharides, disaccharides or polysaccharides. The sugar heads on the surface of the erythrocyte specify the different blood groups. Lectins, as an antigenic determinant of blood group, have come to be an important tool in the identification of different blood groups. A handful of lectins may be considered excellent reagents for anti-A, anti-B, anti-N etc, but the anti-A and anti-M are not yet regarded as commercially suitable antisera. Lectin from Vicia cracca has been proved to be a good anti-A, lectin from Dolichus biflorus can be used as anti-A1, and lectin from Griffonia simplicifolia as anti-B. Lectin from Vicia graminea is said to be a good typing reagent as Anti-N. On the other hand, the lectins involved in polyagglutination are absolutely essential as the reagent of choice and these cannot as yet be replaced by antibodies of any kind. Erythrocytes with exposed cryptantigens are significantly more sensitive to agglutination by certain lectins than by polyclonal antibodies. Peanut agglutinin (PNA), Polybrene, and Glycine max lectins are frequently used for the identification of different cryptantigens. The application of lectins as an anti-B reagent has proven to be as useful as human polyclonal or mouse monoclonal antibodies. Besides their specificity, lectins are excellent reagents because of their lower cost and indigenous production. The importance of various lectins used as markers for blood grouping is discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ABO Blood-Group System / immunology
  • Animals
  • Blood Group Antigens* / immunology
  • Blood Grouping and Crossmatching / methods*
  • Duffy Blood-Group System / immunology
  • Epitopes
  • Humans
  • I Blood-Group System / immunology
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Kell Blood-Group System / immunology
  • Kidd Blood-Group System / immunology
  • Lectins* / immunology
  • Lewis Blood Group Antigens / immunology
  • MNSs Blood-Group System / immunology
  • P Blood-Group System / immunology
  • Rh-Hr Blood-Group System / immunology


  • ABO Blood-Group System
  • Blood Group Antigens
  • Duffy Blood-Group System
  • Epitopes
  • I Blood-Group System
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Kell Blood-Group System
  • Kidd Blood-Group System
  • Lectins
  • Lewis Blood Group Antigens
  • MNSs Blood-Group System
  • P Blood-Group System
  • Rh-Hr Blood-Group System