ABO blood group determines plasma von Willebrand factor levels: a biologic function after all?

Transfusion. 2006 Oct;46(10):1836-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1537-2995.2006.00975.x.


For many years, an association between ABO histo-blood group and risk of thrombosis has been recognized. Blood group non-O (A, B, and AB) individuals have consistently been found to demonstrate increased incidence of both arterial and venous thrombotic disease, compared to group O individuals. This increased risk is attributable to the fact that ABO blood group influences plasma levels of a coagulation glycoprotein named von Willebrand factor (VWF). VWF levels are 25 percent higher in non-O compared to group O individuals. The mechanism by which ABO group determines plasma VWF levels has not been determined. ABO(H) carbohydrate antigenic determinants, however, are expressed on the N-linked glycan chains of circulating plasma VWF. This review will focus on the carbohydrate structures of VWF and recent studies suggesting that subtle variations in these structures (particularly differences in ABO blood group antigen expression) may have clinically significant effects on VWF proteolysis and clearance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ABO Blood-Group System / blood*
  • ABO Blood-Group System / genetics
  • Carbohydrate Sequence / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Polysaccharides / blood*
  • Polysaccharides / genetics
  • Protein Modification, Translational*
  • Thrombosis / blood*
  • Thrombosis / genetics
  • von Willebrand Factor / genetics
  • von Willebrand Factor / metabolism*


  • ABO Blood-Group System
  • Polysaccharides
  • von Willebrand Factor