TGTBT: Rh Blood Group System


Manage episode 277772670 series 1448733
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The Rh blood group system is one of forty-five known human blood group systems. It is the second most important blood group system, after the ABO blood group system. The Rh blood group system consists of 49 defined blood group antigens, among which the five antigens D, C, c, E, and e are the most important. There is no d antigen. Rh(D) status of an individual is normally described with a positive or negative suffix after the ABO type (e.g., someone who is A Positive has the A antigen and the Rh(D) antigen, whereas someone who is A Negative lacks the Rh(D) antigen). The terms Rh factor, Rh positive, and Rh negative refer to the Rh(D) antigen only. Antibodies to Rh antigens can be involved in hemolytic transfusion reactions and antibodies to the Rh(D) and Rh(c) antigens confer significant risk of hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn.
The term "Rh" was originally an abbreviation of "Rhesus factor." It was discovered in 1937 by Karl Landsteiner and Alexander S. Wiener, who, at the time, believed it to be a similar antigen found in rhesus monkey red blood cells. It was subsequently learned the human factor is not identical to the rhesus monkey factor, but by then, "Rhesus Group" and like terms were already in widespread, worldwide use. Thus, notwithstanding it is a misnomer, the term survives (e.g., rhesus blood group system and the obsolete terms rhesus factor, rhesus positive, and rhesus negative – all three of which actually refer specifically and only to the Rh D factor and are thus misleading when unmodified). Contemporary practice is to use "Rh" as a term of art instead of "Rhesus" (e.g., "Rh Group," "Rh factors," "Rh D," etc.).

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