Kawasaki's disease, acrodynia, and mercury

Curr Med Chem. 2008;15(28):3000-10. doi: 10.2174/092986708786848712.


A superantigen or autoimmunity has been hypothesized to be the main cause of the Kawasaki's Disease but the etiology is unknown. Medical literature, epidemiological findings, and some case reports have suggested that mercury may play a pathogenic role. Several patients with Kawasaki's Disease have presented with elevated urine mercury levels compared to matched controls. Most symptoms and diagnostic criteria which are seen in children with acrodynia, known to be caused by mercury, are similar to those seen in Kawasaki's Disease. Genetic depletion of glutathione S-transferase , a susceptibility marker for Kawasaki's Disease, is known to be also a risk factor for acrodynia and may also increase susceptibility to mercury . Coinciding with the largest increase (1985-1990) of thimerosal (49.6% ethyl mercury) in vaccines, routinely given to infants in the U.S. by 6 months of age (from 75microg to 187.5microg), the rates of Kawasaki's Disease increased ten times, and, later (1985-1997), by 20 times. Since 1990 88 cases of patients developing Kawasaki's Disease some days after vaccination have been reported to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) including 19% manifesting symptoms the same day. The presented pathogenetic model may lead to new preventive- and therapeutic strategies for Kawasaki's disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acrodynia / epidemiology
  • Acrodynia / etiology*
  • Acrodynia / urine
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dental Amalgam / adverse effects
  • Ethylmercury Compounds / toxicity
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mercury / toxicity*
  • Methylmercury Compounds / toxicity
  • Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome / etiology*
  • Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome / urine
  • Thimerosal / toxicity
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vaccination / adverse effects


  • Ethylmercury Compounds
  • Methylmercury Compounds
  • Thimerosal
  • Dental Amalgam
  • Mercury