Kawasaki disease (KD) is a pediatric acute multisystemic vasculitis complicated by development of coronary artery lesions. The breakthrough theory on KD etiopathogenesis points to pathogens/environmental factors triggered by northeastern wind coming from China. Natural Killer cells and T lymphocytes express the inhibitory/activating Killer Immunoglobulin-like Receptors (KIR) to elicit an immune response against pathogens by binding to human leukocyte antigens (HLA) class I epitopes. We first report on the role of KIR/HLA genetic epistasis in a sample of 100 Italian KD children. We genotyped KIR, HLA-A, HLA-B and HLA-C polymorphisms, and compared KD data with those from 270 Italian healthy donors. The HLA-A∗11 ligand for KIR2DS2/2DS4/3DL2 was a KD susceptibility marker by itself (odds ratio (OR)=3.85, confidence interval (CI)=1.55-9.53, P=0.004). Although no epistasis between HLA-A∗11 and KIR2DS2/S4 emerged, HLA-A∗11 also engages KIR3DL2, a framework gene encoding for a pathogen sensor of CpG-oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG-ODN), and KD blood mononuclear cells are actually prone to pathogen CpG-ODN activation in the acute phase. Moreover, carriers of KIR2DS2/HLA-C1 and KIR2DL2/HLA-C1 were more frequent among KD, in keeping with data demonstrating the involvement of these HLA/KIR couples in autoimmune endothelial damage. The highest KD risk factor was observed among carriers of KIR2DL2 and two or more HLA ligands (OR=10.24, CI=1.87-56.28; P=0.007).
ASJC Scopus subject areas