The autoimmune signature of hyperinflammatory multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children

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Abstract

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) manifests as a severe and uncontrolled inflammatory response with multiorgan involvement, occurring weeks after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Here, we utilized proteomics, RNA sequencing, autoantibody arrays, and B cell receptor (BCR) repertoire analysis to characterize MIS-C immunopathogenesis and identify factors contributing to severe manifestations and intensive care unit admission. Inflammation markers, humoral immune responses, neutrophil activation, and complement and coagulation pathways were highly enriched in MIS-C patient serum, with a more hyperinflammatory profile in severe than in mild MIS-C cases. We identified a strong autoimmune signature in MIS-C, with autoantibodies targeted to both ubiquitously expressed and tissue-specific antigens, suggesting autoantigen release and excessive antigenic drive may result from systemic tissue damage. We further identified a cluster of patients with enhanced neutrophil responses as well as high anti-Spike IgG and autoantibody titers. BCR sequencing of these patients identified a strong imprint of antigenic drive with substantial BCR sequence connectivity and usage of autoimmunity-associated immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region (IGHV) genes. This cluster was linked to a TRBV11- 2 expanded T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire, consistent with previous studies indicating a superantigen-driven pathogenic process. Overall, we identify a combination of pathogenic pathways that culminate in MIS-C and may inform treatment.

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Porritt, R. A., Binek, A., Paschold, L., Rivas, M. N., McArdle, A., Yonker, L. M., … Arditi, M. (2021). The autoimmune signature of hyperinflammatory multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 131(20). https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI151520

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