A major pediatric research priority and the long-term goal of our laboratory is the identification of the etiology and pathogenesis of Kawasaki Disease (KD), the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children in developed nations. KD can result in coronary artery aneurysm (CAA) formation with resultant myocardial infarction and/or sudden death. Clinical and epidemiologic data are consistent with an infectious cause of KD, but the etiologic agent has proven difficult to identify. Our data support the likelihood that a "new" virus that enters through the respiratory tract and infects bronchial epithelium, traveling in macrophages to targeted tissues including coronary arteries, is the cause.
Anne Rowley, MD
ETIOLOGY AND PATHOGENESIS OF KAWASAKI DISEASE (KD)
Our exciting preliminary data indicate that children with KD produce antibodies to a specific protein at 2-3 weeks after the onset of the illness; this protein is most likely derived from a previously unrecognized “new” virus. This is the most compelling evidence regarding an etiology of KD that has emerged in more than 50 years since Dr. Tomisaku Kawasaki described the clinical features of this illness. We are working to define the complete genome of this virus, which will be critical for the development of a diagnostic test and improved therapy.
CLONING THE PLASMABLAST RESPONSE TO ACUTE INFECTIONS
We are cloning the peripheral blood plasmablast response at 1-2 weeks following Kawasaki disease and preparing monoclonal antibodies from the clonally related plasmablasts obtained from KD patients. We are also interested in cloning and expressing the plasmablast response to other infectious diseases, to allow for discovery of the antigens that stimulate protective antibody responses to these human pathogens.
Anne Rowley, MD, is the Dorothy M. and Edward E. Burwell Professor in Immunobiology at the Stanley Manne Children's Reserach Institute. She specializes in pediatric infectious diseases and is widely recognized for her expertise in caring for children with serious infections, and particularly children with Kawasaki disease. Dr. Rowley leads the Kawasaki Disease Center at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, which is supported by Kawasaki disease parents and friends, the Max Goldenberg Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. Her laboratory is committed to understanding the pathogenesis of Kawasaki disease and developing better diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the illness.