Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Association between the ABO blood group and the human intestinal microbiota composition

Harri Mäkivuokko1*, Sampo J Lahtinen2, Pirjo Wacklin1, Elina Tuovinen1, Heli Tenkanen1, Janne Nikkilä1, Marika Björklund2, Kari Aranko1, Arthur C Ouwehand2 and Jaana Mättö1

Author affiliations

1 The Finnish Red Cross Blood Service, Helsinki, 00310, Finland

2 Danisco Health & Nutrition, Kantvik, 02460, Finland

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Citation and License

BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:94  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-94

Published: 6 June 2012



The mucus layer covering the human intestinal epithelium forms a dynamic surface for host-microbial interactions. In addition to the environmental factors affecting the intestinal equilibrium, such as diet, it is well established that the microbiota composition is individually driven, but the host factors determining the composition have remained unresolved.


In this study, we show that ABO blood group is involved in differences in relative proportion and overall profiles of intestinal microbiota. Specifically, the microbiota from the individuals harbouring the B antigen (secretor B and AB) differed from the non-B antigen groups and also showed higher diversity of the Eubacterium rectale-Clostridium coccoides (EREC) and Clostridium leptum (CLEPT) -groups in comparison with other blood groups.


Our novel finding indicates that the ABO blood group is one of the genetically determined host factors modulating the composition of the human intestinal microbiota, thus enabling new applications in the field of personalized nutrition and medicine.