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Peripheral immunophenotypes in children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1701-1707
Number of pages7
JournalNature Medicine
Issue number11
Early online date18 Aug 2020
Accepted/In press5 Aug 2020
E-pub ahead of print18 Aug 2020
Published1 Nov 2020

King's Authors


Recent reports highlight a new clinical syndrome in children related to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)1—multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)—which comprises multiorgan dysfunction and systemic inflammation2–13. We performed peripheral leukocyte phenotyping in 25 children with MIS-C, in the acute (n = 23; worst illness within 72 h of admission), resolution (n = 14; clinical improvement) and convalescent (n = 10; first outpatient visit) phases of the illness and used samples from seven age-matched healthy controls for comparisons. Among the MIS-C cohort, 17 (68%) children were SARS-CoV-2 seropositive, suggesting previous SARS-CoV-2 infections14,15, and these children had more severe disease. In the acute phase of MIS-C, we observed high levels of interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-17, interferon-γ and differential T and B cell subset lymphopenia. High CD64 expression on neutrophils and monocytes, and high HLA-DR expression on γδ and CD4+CCR7+ T cells in the acute phase, suggested that these immune cell populations were activated. Antigen-presenting cells had low HLA-DR and CD86 expression, potentially indicative of impaired antigen presentation. These features normalized over the resolution and convalescence phases. Overall, MIS-C presents as an immunopathogenic illness1 and appears distinct from Kawasaki disease.

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