Increased frequency of immunoglobulin (Ig)A-secreting cells following Toll-like receptor (TLR)-9 engagement in patients with Kawasaki disease

L. Giordani, M. G. Quaranta, A. Marchesi, E. Straface, D. Pietraforte, A. Villani, W. Malorni, D. Del Principe, M. Viora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Kawasaki disease (KD) is an acute vasculitis affecting mainly infants and children. Human B cells express Toll-like receptor (TLR)-9, whose natural ligands are unmethylated cytosine-guanine dinucleotide (CpG) motifs characteristic of bacterial DNA. The aim of this study was to clarify the pathogenesis of KD analysing the activation status of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), focusing on B lymphocyte activation and functions. Ten patients and 10 age-matched healthy donors were recruited from the Bambino Gesù Hospital of Rome, Italy and enrolled into this study. We determined phenotype profile and immunoglobulin (Ig) production of PBMC from KD patients and age-matched controls. We found that the frequency of CD19+ B lymphocytes and CD19+/CD86+ activated B lymphocytes from KD patients during the acute phase before therapy was increased significantly. Moreover, B lymphocytes of acute-phase KD patients were more prone to CpG oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) activation compared with the age-matched controls, as assessed by a significant increase of the number of IgA-secreting cells (SC). In the same patients we found a marked increase of IgM, IgG, interleukin (IL)-6 and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α production compared with the control group. In addition, in two convalescent KD patients, conventional treatment with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) restored the normal frequency of CD19+ B cells, the number of IgA-, IgM- and IgG-SC and the production of IL-6 and TNF-α. Our findings indicate that the percentages of peripheral B lymphocytes of acute-phase KD patients are increased and are prone to bacterial activation in terms of increased numbers of IgA-SC and increased production of IL-6 and TNF-α inflammatory cytokines. Thus, our data support the hypothesis of an infectious triggering in KD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-353
Number of pages8
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • B lymphocytes
  • Humoral immune response
  • Ig
  • Kawasaki disease
  • TLR-9

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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