Kawasaki disease is a rare condition that causes blood vessels to become inflamed and swollen. It predominantly occurs in children under the age of five. If left untreated, it results in balloon-like swellings (aneurysms) in the coronary vessels of approximately 25% of cases. To date, the cause of this disease remains unknown.
A group of researchers led by Dr Paul Brogan recently conducted a study aiming to shed light on how the disease develops. Ninety-two children with KD were examined at the Somers Clinical Research Facility (CRF) at GOSH. Levels of circulating endothelial cells (CECs), which are mature cells that have become detached from the vessel wall and are often associated with vascular injury, were measured years after patients developed KD. The researchers found CECs were elevated in KD patients, usually highest in patients with coronary artery aneurysms. Elevated levels of CECs were also seen in some KD patients that had not had coronary artery aneurysms. While the relevance of elevated CECs are not yet known, this study provides rationale for long-term follow up of these patients.
This study has been accepted for publication in the journal, Heart. It was conducted at the BRC-supported Somers CRF at GOSH. Dr Brogan is a BRC-supported researcher.