Nov 04, 2015

Could Your Blood Type Influence Susceptibility to Alzheimer’s?

A new research study from the University of Sheffield suggests that our blood type may have more of an influence on protecting our brain from disease than previously thought.
A promising development that may have the potential to unveil another piece of the puzzle supporting Alzheimer’s research.

The University of Sheffield journal Brain Research Bulletin, suggests that individuals with ‘Type O’ blood have larger grey matter in the cerebellum. The region of the brain involved with seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech and decision making.

Grey matter a major component of the central nervous system, comprising of numerous brain cells including neurons. Often found to be on of the first areas damaged in people with Alzheimer’s disease. People with larger grey matter may have more reserve before negative effects take place. While further research needs to be done, this suggests that our blood type may yet provide some clues to susceptibility.

The aim of the study was to compare the grey matter volumes of 189 cognitively healthy adults. Of the participants, 76 adults had Type O blood, 65 adults had Type A blood while the others had either Type AB or B blood. All participants were scanned using an MRI brain scanning technique to measure the volume of the grey matter. The researchers found that participants with Type O blood had more grey matter in the posterior proportion of the cerebellum. Those with ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘AB’ blood types had more grey matter volumes in both temporal (responsible for memory and language) and limbic regions (responsible for emotions, memories and arousal) of the brain, including the left hippocampus. With the hippocampus one of the areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Matteo De Marco, research fellow at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Neuroscience, stated that the findings indicated that individuals with ‘O’ blood type have more protection against particular diseases where the volumetric reduction is seen in temporal regions of the brain, with Alzheimer’s disease being a classic example.

Dr DeMarco was clear to emphasise, however, that the community must not to jump to conclusion and assume that blood type can decrease or increase our risk of dementia. Further, individuals with A, B or AB blood types should not assume that they are at higher risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s until further research is performed. Although still in early stages requiring additional tests and further research. It’s another step forward in the search for a greater understanding for the causes of the disease.

Vicki Tuchtan, Academic Director at Sage Institute of Education

Vicki Tuchtan is the Academic Director at Sage Institute of Education. She oversees learning processes, teaching outcomes, resources and course development. A passionate advocate for bettering standards of Aged Care Training.

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