Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is typically very mild and often asymptomatic in children. A complication is the rare multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19, presenting 4-6 weeks after infection as high fever, organ dysfunction, and strongly elevated markers of inflammation. The pathogenesis is unclear but has overlapping features with Kawasaki disease suggestive of vasculitis and a likely autoimmune etiology. We apply systems-level analyses of blood immune cells, cytokines, and autoantibodies in healthy children, children with Kawasaki disease enrolled prior to COVID-19, children infected with SARS-CoV-2, and children presenting with MIS-C. We find that the inflammatory response in MIS-C differs from the cytokine storm of severe acute COVID-19, shares several features with Kawasaki disease, but also differs from this condition with respect to T cell subsets, interleukin (IL)-17A, and biomarkers associated with arterial damage. Finally, autoantibody profiling suggests multiple autoantibodies that could be involved in the pathogenesis of MIS-C.
Keywords: COVID-19; IL-17A; Kawasaki disease; MIS-C; SARS-CoV-2; autoantibodies; hyperinflammation in children; multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children; systems immunology.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.