Researchers find possible genetic cause for MIS-C

A new study suggests there may be an underlying genetic cause for why some children develop a rare but serious inflammatory condition known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, after a COVID-19 infection. 

More than 9,000 MIS-C cases, including 74 deaths, have been reported to the CDC since the agency started tracking them in May 2020. A study published Dec. 20 in Science identified genetic mutations to the proteins OAS and RNase L that increased the inflammatory response in some immune cells. The mutations were found in five unrelated children with MIS-C. 

"That change can cause inflammation in multiple organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract," Cleveland Clinic said in a news release on the findings. Cleveland Clinic researcher Robert Silverman, PhD, collaborated with a team at New York City-based Rockefeller University on the study.

"We identified the mutations through analyzing DNA sequence data from MIS-C patients in comparison to other children who were infected with COVID-19 but did not contract MIS-C," Jean-Laurent Casanova, MD, PhD, who led the study with the Rockefeller team, said in the Dec. 20 news release. "One of the key research questions was whether increased virus multiplication or an exaggerated inflammatory response led to MIS-C in the cases with the mutations. Our results support the latter explanation."


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