Kawasaki disease (KD) is an acute self-limiting inflammatory disorder, associated with vasculitis, affecting predominantly medium-sized arteries, particularly the coronary arteries. In developed countries KD is the commonest cause of acquired heart disease in childhood. The aetiology of KD remains unknown, and it is currently believed that one or more as yet unidentified infectious agents induce an intense inflammatory host response in genetically susceptible individuals. Genetic studies have identified several susceptibility genes for KD and its sequelae in different ethnic populations, including FCGR2A, CD40, ITPKC, FAM167A-BLK and CASP3, as well as genes influencing response to intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and aneurysm formation such as FCGR3B, and transforming growth factor (TGF) β pathway genes. IVIG and aspirin are effective therapeutically, but recent clinical trials and meta-analyses have demonstrated that the addition of corticosteroids to IVIG is beneficial for the prevention of coronary artery aneurysms (CAA) in severe cases with highest risk of IVIG resistance. Outside of Japan, however, clinical scores to predict IVIG resistance perform suboptimally. Furthermore, the evidence base does not provide clear guidance on which corticosteroid regimen is most effective. Other therapies, including anti-TNFα, could also have a role for IVIG-resistant KD. Irrespective of these caveats, it is clear that therapy that reduces inflammation in acute KD, improves outcome. This paper summarises recent advances in the understanding of KD pathogenesis and therapeutics, and provides an approach for managing KD patients in the UK in the light of these advances.
- Infectious Diseases
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