Cause of Kawasaki syndrome proven

Cause of Kawasaki syndrome proven

Poison from the air apparently causes Kawasaki syndrome

The so-called "Kawasaki syndrome" is an acute, highly febrile inflammation of the small and medium-sized blood vessels that can affect the whole body and all organs. The syndrome mainly affects children between the ages of half a year and five years, if it is not treated, it can lead to damage to the coronary arteries in an emergency and thus even to a heart attack. So far, the cause of the syndrome has been largely unknown - but now scientists have apparently identified fungi of the Candida genus as triggers.

Highly febrile illness mainly affects Japanese toddlers. The "Kawasaki syndrome" (also: mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome) has been an acute, highly febrile illness known since 1961 that primarily affects toddlers. Rather rarely in Germany and other countries, the disease affects Japanese children particularly often and is typically characterized by high, persistent fever, non-itchy rash, reddening of the mouth, conjunctivitis (conjunctivitis) and swelling of the lymph nodes. If the syndrome - named after the discoverer Tomisaku Kawasaki - is recognized early and treated accordingly, it usually heals without complications. On the other hand, it can become dangerous if it remains undetected or is not acted on in time, because then there is a risk that the coronary arteries may also become inflamed, which can lead to an aneurysm formation and thus, in an emergency, to a heart attack.

Causes so far unknown The causes of Kawasaki syndrome have so far been largely unknown, it has often been suspected that an overreaction of the body's defense system could be responsible. But now researchers have apparently brought light into the dark and identified the trigger. As the scientists currently report in the "Proceedings" of the US National Academy of Sciences ("PNAS"), a fungus is responsible for the disease, which reaches the air flow from northeast China to Japan.

Researchers already gained their first insights into Kawasaki in 2011 In 2011, an international team of researchers led by climate scientist Xavier Rodó from the Catalan Research Institute (ICREA) in Barcelona reported in the journal "Nature" that the disease was apparently related to a specific wind pattern. At that time, the researchers had already found out that a particularly large number of cases of the syndrome had occurred in a certain weather situation in Japan and therefore started a computer simulation with the wind conditions and the particle transport in the air flow of the corresponding days. The team came across a region in northeastern China in which the cause of the disease was suspected, which is then carried on by wind. The background: This area is mainly characterized by agriculture.

Large quantities of mushrooms of the “Candida” genus found in samples Now Xavier Rodó and colleagues were able to collect new knowledge. In further experiments, the researchers now took aerosol samples from Japan from a height of two to three kilometers from the aircraft and then examined them in the laboratory for fungi and bacteria. The result: The samples contained a large amount of “Candida” fungi, which are known to trigger various diseases in humans and cause the vascular inflammation typical of Kawasaki in mice. According to the scientists, this fungus could also be the cause of the disease - which would also correspond to the relatively short incubation period of less than 24 hours. "A fungus poison could be a possible causative agent of Kawasaki disease (KD) in accordance with an agricultural source, a short incubation period and synchronized outbreaks. Our study suggests that the causative agent of KD is more of a preformed toxin or an ecological agent, ”the scientists summarize. (No)

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