Objectives: Recently, histo-blood group antigens (HBGAs) have been identified as receptors or attachment factors of several viral pathogens. Among rotaviruses, HBGAs interact with the outer viral protein, VP4, which has been identified as a potential susceptibility factor, although the findings are inconsistent throughout populations due to HBGA polymorphisms. We investigated the association between HBGA phenotypes and rotavirus infection in children with acute gastroenteritis in northern Pretoria, South Africa. Methods: Paired diarrheal stool and saliva samples were collected from children aged ≤ 59 months (n = 342) with acute moderate to severe diarrhea, attending two health care facilities. Rotaviruses in the stool samples were detected by commercial EIA and the rotavirus strains were characterized by RT-PCR targeting the outer capsid VP7 (G-type) and VP4 (P-type) antigens for genotyping. Saliva-based ELISAs were performed to determine A, B, H, and Lewis antigens for blood group typing. Results: Blood type O was the most common blood group (62.5%) in this population, followed by groups A (26.0%), B (9.3%), and AB (2.2%). The H1-based secretors were common (82.7%) compared to the non-secretors (17.3%), and the Lewis antigen positive phenotypes (Le(a+b+)) were predominant (54.5%). Blood type A children were more likely to be infected by rotavirus (38.8%) than any other blood types. P rotaviruses (21/49; 42.9%) infected only secretor individuals, whereas P rotaviruses (3/49; 6.1%) only infected Le(a−b−), although the numbers were very low. On the contrary, P rotaviruses infected children with a wide range of blood group phenotypes, including Le(a−b−) and non-secretors. Conclusions: Our findings demonstrated that Lewis antigens, or the lack thereof, may serve as susceptibility factors to rotaviral infection by specific VP4 genotypes as observed elsewhere. Potentially, the P strains remain the predominant human VP4 genotype due to their ability to bind to a variety of HBGA phenotypes.
- Lewis antigens
- South Africa