COVID-19 induced by SARS-CoV-2 causes Kawasaki-like disease in children: Role of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines

G. Ronconi, Giulia Teté, Spyridon K. Kritas, Carla Enrica Gallenga, A. Caraffa, R. Ross, Pio Conti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acute severe respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) caused a global pandemic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In humans, SARS-CoV-2 infection leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome which presents edema, hemorrhage, intra-alveolar fibrin deposition, and vascular changes characterized by thrombus formation, micro-angiopathy and thrombosis. These clinical signs are mediated by proinflammatory cytokines. In recent studies it has been noted that COVID-19 pandemic can affect patients of all ages, including children (even if less severely) who were initially thought to be immune. Kawasaki disease is an autoimmune acute febrile inflammatory condition, which primarily affects young children. The disease can present immunodeficiency with the inability of the immune system to fight inflammatory pathogens and leads to fever, rash, alterations of the mucous membranes, conjunctiva infection, pharyngeal erythema, adenopathy, and inflammation. In the COVID-19 period, virus infection aggravates the condition of Kawasaki disease, but it has also been noted that children affected by SARS-V-2 may develop a disease similar to Kawasaki’s illness.However, it is uncertain whether the virus alone can give Kawasaki disease-like forms. As in COVID-19, Kawasaki disease and its similar forms are mediated by pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by innate immunity cells such as macrophages and mast cells (MCs). In light of the above, it is therefore pertinent to think that by blocking pro-inflammatory cytokines with new anti-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-37 and IL-37, it is possible to alleviate the symptoms of the disease and have a new available therapeutic tool. However, since Kawasaki and Kawasaki-like diseases present immunodeficiency, treatment with anti-inflammatory/immunosuppressant molecules must be applied very carefully.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-773
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Children
  • COVID-19
  • Cytokine
  • Immunity
  • Inflammation
  • Kawasaki
  • Mast cells
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Physiology
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cancer Research


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