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Keywords:

  • Kawasaki disease;
  • BCG;
  • atypical mycobacterium;
  • mouse model;
  • peroxiredoxin

Abstract

Kawasaki disease causes systemic vasculitis. The development of skin lesions at the vaccination site with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is an important diagnostic symptom. We hypothesized that infection with ubiquitous microorganisms immunogenically related to BCG might induce an immunopathologic reaction leading to the development of Kawasaki disease. Mice were first inoculated with BCG, and then secondarily inoculated 4 weeks later with crude extract from Mycobacterium intracellulare (cMI), an abundant atypical mycobacterium. Animals inoculated with BCG followed by cMI developed coronary arteritis with infiltration of inflammatory cells, whereas control animals inoculated with only cMI or BCG did not, suggesting that the immune response to the mycobacteria induced autoimmunity to the vascular wall. Intravenous injection with antibodies to peroxiredoxin II, a modulator of vascular remodeling and a suggested target for autoimmune vasculitis, also resulted in coronary arteritis, but only after prior inoculation with BCG. Tumor necrosis factor-α, MCP1 and interferon-γ production were significantly higher in the animals inoculated with BCG than in the control groups (P<0.05). BCG immunization was required for the development of coronary arteritis, suggesting that these cytokines might play important roles. The results indicate that BCG induces primary autoimmunity and stimulates cytokine induction, and that atypical mycobacterial infection boosts the autoimmunity resulting in coronary arteritis.