Kawasaki disease (KD) is an acute systemic vasculitis of childhood that does not have a known cause or aetiology. The epidemiological features (existence of epidemics, community outbreaks and seasonality), unique age distribution and clinical symptoms and signs of KD suggest that the disease is caused by one or more infectious environmental triggers. However, KD is not transmitted person-to-person and does not occur in clusters within households, schools or nurseries. KD is a self-limited illness that is not associated with the production of autoantibodies or the deposition of immune complexes, and it rarely recurs. Regarding the underlying pathophysiology of KD, innate immune activity (the inflammasome) is believed to play a role in the development of KD vasculitis, based on the results of studies with animal models and the clinical and laboratory findings of KD patients. Animal studies have demonstrated that innate immune pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) can cause vasculitis independently of acquired immunity and have provided valuable insights regarding the underlying mechanisms of this phenomenon. To validate this concept, we recently searched for KD-specific PAMPs and identified such molecules with high specificity and sensitivity. These molecules have structures similar to those of microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs), as shown by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. We propose herein that KD is an innate immune disorder resulting from the exposure of a genetically predisposed individual to microbe-derived innate immune stimulants and that it is not a typical infectious disease.
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