MAY 18, 2022 9:16 PM PDT

COVID-19, MIS-C & Kawasaki Disease Lead to the Same Immune Response

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The world has quickly learned that the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes COVID-19, and researchers began defining the condition, and looking for what causes it and how to prevent or treat it. Over time, scientists and clinicians also found that SARS-CoV-2 could impact children in a specific way, causing headaches, abdominal pain, rashes, and vomiting. Most children recover but for some of those pediatric patients, intensive care was required, and there have been fatalities. This collection of symptoms was termed multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a cell infected with a variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID

MIS-C was noted for its similarities to another rare illness called Kawasaki disease (KD), which primarily impacts children and is thought to be triggered by infections and environmental factors. KD can cause heart attacks and coronary artery aneurysms. Researchers have now shown that MIS-C and KD lead to the same immune response that COVID-19 does, though MIS-C is more severe. The findings have been reported in Nature Communications.

Researchers wanted to discern between the inflammation seen in MIS-C and KD, so they obtained samples of blood and tissue from patients. Gene expression was assessed, focusing on biomarkers of both conditions, and the researchers used computational tools to look for patterns. There are some differences in the clinical parameters. This study could lead to better treatments for patients.

The research team has also identified 166 genes that are expressed when cells are experiencing a viral respiratory disease, and a subset of those genes are associated with the severity of the disease. There is also a genetic signature that applies to MIS-C and KD, which indicates that there is a shared mechanism underlying the diseases; that mechanism appears to related to a quick release of IL15/IL15RA cytokines.

A separate group of 13 genes that is used to identify KD was also assessed. When computers were trained to identify that genetic signature, it was unable to differentiate between KD and MIS-C; the genetic signatures were basically indistinguishable from each other.

“We were not expecting that,” said co-corresponding study author Pradipta Ghosh, MD, a professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “We analyzed MIS-C and KD through the lens of two distinct gene signatures, and both experiments told us these diseases are closely related.” The signature probably represents different aspects of one broad immune response, Ghosh added.

As far as the differences between the disorders, they are subtle. For example, blood platelet and eosinophil counts are lower. Serum cytokines are elevated in both diseases, but certain ones were a bit higher in MIS-C compared to KD.

There are existing drugs that target some of those elevated cytokines, noted the researchers. Some, like those that aim for TNFα and IL1β, are already approved for use in the US, and are being tested as MIS-C treatments.

Sources: University of California (UC) San Diego, Nature Communications

About the Author
BS
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
MAY 17, 2022
Cancer
Looking for an Easier Way to Scale-up Your Benchtop Cell Cultures?
MAY 17, 2022
Looking for an Easier Way to Scale-up Your Benchtop Cell Cultures?
Much has been written about scaling up cell culture for bioprocessing and other applications that require a very high de ...
JUN 08, 2022
Coronavirus
How are you Preparing for the Next Covid Surge?
JUN 08, 2022
How are you Preparing for the Next Covid Surge?
After two years of uncertainty, we can definitely say that the coronavirus (Covid-19) has changed our everyday lives as ...
JUN 12, 2022
Neuroscience
High Optimism Linked to Living Past 90 in Women
JUN 12, 2022
High Optimism Linked to Living Past 90 in Women
Higher levels of optimism are linked to a longer lifespan and living beyond age 90 in women across diverse racial and et ...
JUN 25, 2022
Immunology
A Link Between Hair Growth and the Immune System is Revealed
JUN 25, 2022
A Link Between Hair Growth and the Immune System is Revealed
Salk Institute researchers studying alopecia have learned more about the link between immunity and hair growth.
JUL 28, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
The benefits of lyophilization in assay kit development: Maximizing the integrity and shelf life of reagents
JUL 28, 2022
The benefits of lyophilization in assay kit development: Maximizing the integrity and shelf life of reagents
Freeze drying, lyophilization, and cryodesiccation are all terms used to describe the process of removing water from a s ...
AUG 03, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Monkeypox Updates: Transmission, Symptoms, and Treatment
AUG 03, 2022
Monkeypox Updates: Transmission, Symptoms, and Treatment
With the 2020 Covid lockdowns still fresh in our minds, the recent outbreak of monkeypox in the United States has many p ...
Loading Comments...