Immune response in some children may influence COVID treatments for adults

A new study shows that T cell activation in children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome is more similar to adults with severe COVID-19.

Taking the first deep dive into how the immune system is behaving in patients with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Perelman School of Medicine have found that children with this condition have highly activated immune systems that, in many ways, are more similar to those of adults with severe COVID-19.

Microscopic view of a virus

The results, published in Science Immunology, show that better understanding the immune activation in patients with MIS-C could not only help better treat those patients but also improve treatment for adults with severe COVID-19.

“This study shows that children with MIS-C are tremendously immune activated, particularly when it comes to CD8 T cells, but that this activation subsides once patients begin to improve clinically,” says Laura Vella, attending physician in the division of infectious diseases at CHOP and first author of the study.

“SARS-CoV2 infection can lead to a broad spectrum of clinical and immunological outcomes,” says E. John Wherry, director of the Penn Medicine Institute for Immunology and senior author of the study. “The use of an ‘Immune Health’ profiling approach for pediatric COVID-19 patients identified distinct features of the pediatric MIS-C presentation of disease. The insights gained by studying those patients may reveal new therapeutic opportunities not only for pediatric COVID-19 patients, but adult COVID-19 patients as well.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.