Hemagglutinin or haemagglutinin (British English; both /ˌhɛməˈɡltɪn/[1][2]) refers to glycoproteins which cause red blood cells (RBCs) to agglutinate. This process is called hemagglutination or haemagglutination.

Illustration showing influenza virus attaching to cell membrane via the surface protein hemagglutinin

Antibodies[3] and lectins[4] are commonly known hemagglutinins.


Examples include:

  • Influenza hemagglutinin
  • Measles hemagglutinin
  • Parainfluenza hemagglutinin-neuraminidase
  • Mumps hemagglutinin-neuraminidase
  • The PH-E form of phytohaemagglutinin

Uses in serology

Hemagglutination can be used to identify RBC surface antigens (with known antibodies) or to screen for antibodies (with RBCs with known surface antigens).

Using anti-A and anti-B antibodies that bind specifically to either the A or to the B blood group surface antigens on RBCs it is possible to test a small sample of blood and determine the ABO blood group (or blood type) of an individual.

The bedside card method of blood grouping relies on visual agglutination to determine an individual's blood group. The card has dried blood group antibody reagents fixed onto its surface and a drop of the individual's blood is placed on each area on the card. The presence or absence of visual agglutination enables a quick and convenient method of determining the ABO and Rhesus status of the individual.

Agglutination of red blood cells is used in the Coombs test.

See also


  1. Robert S. Boyd - Knight Ridder Newspapers (May 24, 2007) [Oct 6, 2005]. "Scientists race to develop a vaccine against a killer flu". Mcclatchydc.com. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  2. "Bird flu: Don't fly into a panic - Harvard Health". Harvard.edu. Oct 2006. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  3. "hemagglutinin" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  4. Hemagglutinins at the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
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