Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) occurs during or recently following severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and is characterized by persistent fever, inflammation, and severe illness requiring hospitalization. The majority of patients with MIS-C also present with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. In this issue of the JCI, Yonker, Gilboa, and colleagues identified zonulin as a biomarker of GI permeability in children with MIS-C and present the results of an intriguing proof-of-concept study indicating that zonulin may represent a potential therapeutic target for MIS-C treatment and prevention. Their findings suggest that intestinal mucosal dysfunction and epithelial barrier breakdown may represent a biological mechanism underlying the development of MIS-C in SARS-CoV-2–infected children.
Tiffany Hensley-McBain, Jennifer A. Manuzak