Kawasaki disease (KD) is a paediatric multisystem necrotizing vasculitis constituting the most frequent cause of acquired heart disease in childhood. Conflicting data have been reported regarding expanded T-cell populations using particular T-cell receptor (TCR)β-chain variable (BV) gene segments, suggesting either a superantigen- or a conventional antigen-mediated immune response in this disease. In order to further investigate the role of T lymphocytes, cells were stained with an extensive panel of 21 different TCRBV specific monoclonal antibobies (MoAbs) covering almost 70% of all T-cells. Flow cytometry was employed to analyse the expression of the TCRBV repertoire in the CD4+ and CD8+ subsets separately, and of activation markers, in freshly isolated peripheral blood lymphocytes of 25 Kawasaki disease patients during the acute and convalescent phases of the disease. No abnormal usage of any TCRBV family was found, neither acutely nor during convalescence, compared with a control group of healthy children. However, a significant increase in interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2R)-expressing T lymphocytes restricted to the CD4 subset was observed in KD patients. Our data confirm a strong immune activation in KD that might be of importance in the pathogenesis of the disease.
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