THURSDAY, Aug. 12, 2021 (HealthDay News)
New research offers insight into a rare but dangerous inflammatory disease that can occur in children after COVID-19 infection, researchers report.
More than 2,600 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) have been reported in the United States since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
An autoimmune condition has been suggested as an underlying cause of MIS-C, but specific genes, pathways and cell types remain unknown.
In this study, researchers at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City discovered that certain infection-fighting cells of the immune system are “exhausted” in children with MIS-C, and that this is associated with a sustained inflammatory response that’s a hallmark of infection with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19.
“Our study implicated T-cell exhaustion in MIS-C patients as one of the potential drivers of this disease, suggesting that an increase in both NK cells and circulating exhausted CD8+ T-cells may improve inflammatory disease symptoms,” said co-lead author Noam Beckmann, assistant professor of genetics and genomic sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
CD8+ T-cells and NK (natural killer) cells are types of immune cells.
“Additionally, we found nine key regulators of this network known to have associations with NK cell and exhausted CD8+ T cell functionality,” Beckmann said in a Mount Sinai news release.
One of those regulators, TBX21, is a promising treatment target because it’s a master coordinator of the transition of CD8+ T-cells from effective to exhausted, he explained.
The study is a significant step forward because it points researchers to new pathways involving complex networks and subnetworks of genes that may be associated with MIS-C, according to the authors.
The findings were published Aug. 11 in the journal Nature Communications.
SOURCE: Mount Sinai Health System, news release, Aug. 11, 2021
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