The term Rh is the abbreviation of the â€œRhesus factor.â€ The Rh blood group system present in human beings consists of 49 defined blood group antigens. It is the second most used and important blood group system after the famous ABO blood group system. Of all the 49 antigens, five antigens, that is, the C, c, D, E, and e, are most important. No antigen as d exists. The Rh blood group status of a human being is usually described with either a positive or a negative suffix. The positive suffix indicates the presence of the antigen whereas, the negative indicates its absence. The first and the most common antigen is the RhD antigen. The antibodies are called anti-Rh factors.
The term Rh, which is the abbreviation of the â€œRhesus factor,â€ is derived from a similar antigen found in the rhesus macaque’s red blood cells. It was discovered in the year 1937 by Alexander S. Wiener and Karl Landsteiner, who believed that this was the same as that found in the rhesus macaque. With time, it was learned that the antigen found in the human factor was not identical to that found in the rhesus monkey. This name, i.e., the name Rh Group could not be changed because it has spread worldwide and was being used by the time the difference was learned. The importance or significance of their discovery was not realized till 1940 after a subsequent finding by Rufus Stetson and Philip Levine. Rabbits were immunized with red blood cells from a rhesus monkey, which led to the discovery of a serum. The antigen used was designated by the term Rh factor, which indicated the use of rhesus blood for serum production. These two scientists in 1939 published a report about the clinical consequence of the non-recognized factor. The first consequence is the hemolytic transfusion reaction, and the second is the hemolytic take disease of the newborn. The serum agglutinated with red blood cells of around 80% of people. In 1940, Weiner and Landsteiner reported a serum just like the earlier discovery that reacted with 85% of different red blood cells in humans. The first anti-serum for blood group O was made in May 1941. A patient delivered one baby normally and then had long sterility, and the second child born suffered from icterus gravis.
The Rh factor has a complex and harmful play during the pregnancy and is incompatible if the mother is Rh-negative and the father is Rh-positive. It causes a condition called hemolytic disease in the newborn. The hemolytic condition occurs due to the incompatibility between blood types of fetus and mother. If incompatibility is observed, the mother receives an injection at around 28 days of gestation. This incompatibility is known as erythroblastosis fetalis.
When caused by Rh D antigen and antibody incompatibility, it is called Rh D hemolytic disease of the newborn. During birth, sensitization to Rh D antigens usually leads to the production of IgG in the mother, and these anti â€“ D antibodies can even pass the placenta.
Symptoms of the condition in the fetus
Here are a few symptoms and signs in the fetus regarding the hemolytic disease of the newborn:
Enlarged Spleen, liver, and heart
Fluid buildup in the fetus abdomen
Symptoms and signs in the newborn can be
Jaundice, which gives the skin a yellow discoloration
Enlargement of spleen and liver
Anemia that gives the newborn a pale appearance
Severe edema of the body in some cases
Difficulty in breathing or dyspnea.
Function or significance of the Rh blood group system
The functions of the Rh blood group are as follows
The Rh D protein is a membrane transport protein and has no known physiological role.
It is one of the three subunits of ammonia transporter.
Rh D negative has a shorter reaction time than Rh D positive, and hence it subjects with anamnestic titers.
Rh D positive heterozygotes have protection, which is long term. However, the protection of the Rh D homozygotes decreases with infection or disease.
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