MadSci Network: Cell Biology

Re: what are the differences in human and animal blood?

Date: Fri Apr 27 17:21:47 2001
Posted By: Erin Cram, Post doc, Molecular Biology
Area of science: Cell Biology
ID: 988339627.Cb

Your question is a little vague, but I will answer it in a general way.  Humans 
can't have transfusions of animal blood, because our immune system will recognize 
it as foreign and mount an immune response.  This type of systemic immune 
response will cause the body to go into shock and probably die.  During 
development, the cells of the immune system are tested in the thymus to make sure 
they do not attack "self" proteins (called self antigens).  Even an animal that 
is very similar to a human, such as a monkey, has enough differences in their 
proteins that our immune system can recognize it as different and foreign.  This 
is caused by very slight differences in the protein sequences.  Different sugars 
on the cell surfaces can also be recognized by the immune system.  Our immune 
system is very good.  That is why even two humans must be carefully matched to 
donate and receive blood.  If you got blood from someone of a different 
incompatible blood type, your immune system would attack it.  For example, if you 
have type O blood, you can only receive type O blood.  You can not take type A or 
B blood, because that blood has different sugars on proteins on the blood cells 
which your immune system will recognize and attack.

	Erin Cram, Admin MadSci Network

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