Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
n. A classification of blood that is based on the presence or absence of antigen in the red blood cell of an individual. For the purposes of blood transfusion three antigens referred to as "A", "B" and "RhD" (out of a total of 29) are the most important. Based on their presence the human blood can be classified to A, AB, B, and O '''blood types''' which are further divided to Rh positive or negative.
n. people whose blood (usually just the red blood cells) has the same antigens [syn: blood group]
A blood type (also called a blood group) is a classification of blood based on the presence and absence of antibodies and also based on the presence or absence of inherited antigenic substances on the surface of red blood cells (RBCs). These antigens may be proteins, carbohydrates, glycoproteins, or glycolipids, depending on the blood group system. Some of these antigens are also present on the surface of other types of cells of various tissues. Several of these red blood cell surface antigens can stem from one allele (or an alternative version of a gene) and collectively form a blood group system. Blood types are inherited and represent contributions from both parents. A total of 35 human blood group systems are now recognized by the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT). The two most important ones are ABO and the RhD antigen; they determine someone's blood type (A, B, AB and O, with +, − or Null denoting RhD status).
Many pregnant women carry a fetus with a blood type which is different from their own, which is not a problem. What can matter is whether the baby is RhD positive or negative. Mothers who are RhD- and carry a RhD+ baby can form antibodies against fetal RBCs. Sometimes these maternal antibodies are IgG, a small immunoglobulin, which can cross the placenta and cause hemolysis of fetal RBCs, which in turn can lead to hemolytic disease of the newborn called erythroblastosis fetalis, an illness of low fetal blood counts that ranges from mild to severe. Sometimes this is lethal for the fetus; in these cases it is called hydrops fetalis.
Animal erythrocytes have cell surface antigens that undergo polymorphism and give rise to blood types. Antigens from the human ABO blood group system are also found in apes and Old World monkeys, and the system traces back to the origin of hominoids. Other animal blood sometimes agglutinates (to varying levels of intensity) with human blood group reagents, but the structure of the blood group antigens in animals is not always identical to those typically found in humans. The classification of most animal blood groups therefore uses different blood typing systems to those used for classification of human blood.