Multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has recently been described in children (MIS-C), partially overlapping with Kawasaki disease (KD). We hypothesized that: 1) MIS-C and pre-pandemic KD cytokine profiles may be unique and justify the clinical differences observed; 2) SARS-CoV-2-specific immune complexes (IC) may explain the immunopathology of MIS-C. Seventy-four children were included: 14 MIS-C; 9 patients with positive SARS-CoV-2-PCR without MIS-C (COVID); 14 pre-pandemic KD and 37 healthy controls (HC). Thirty-four circulating cytokines were quantified in pre-treatment serum or plasma samples and the presence of circulating SARS-CoV-2 IC was evaluated in MIS-C patients. Compared to HC, MIS-C and KD groups showed most cytokines to be significantly elevated, with IFN-γ-induced response markers (including IFN-γ, IL-18, IP-10) and inflammatory monocytes activation markers (including MCP-1, IL-1α, IL-1RA) being the main triggers of inflammation. With linear discriminant analysis, MIS-C and KD profiles overlapped; however, a subgroup of MIS-C patients (MIS-Cplus) differentiated from the remaining MIS-C patients in IFN-γ, IL-18, GM-CSF, RANTES, IP-10, IL-1α and SDF-1 and incipient signs of macrophagic activation syndrome. Circulating SARS-CoV-2-IC were not detected in MIS-C patients. Our findings suggest a major role of IFN-γ in the pathogenesis of MIS-C, which may be relevant for therapeutic management.
Ana Esteve-Sole, Jordi Anton, Rosa Maria Pino-Ramírez, Judith Sanchez-Manubens, Victoria Fumadó, Clàudia Fortuny, María Rios-Barnes, Joan Sanchez-de-Toledo, Mónica Girona-Alarcón, Juan M. Mosquera, Silvia Ricart, Cristian Launes, Mariona Fernández de Sevilla, Cristina Jou, Carmen Muñoz-Almagro, Eva González-Roca, Andrea Vergara, Jorge Carrillo, Manel Juan, Daniel Cuadras, Antoni Noguera-Julian, Iolanda Jordan, Laia Alsina