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Rowley Lab - Kawasaki disease

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.

From left: Leah Gruen, Dr. Anne Rowley, David Arrollo

Current Research Projects

Etiology and pathogenesis of Kawasaki Disease (KD)

Our exciting preliminary data indicate that children with KD produce antibodies to proteins of a specific RNA viral family at about 1-2 weeks after the onset of their illness. 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.

Intracytoplasmic viral inclusion bodies (brown, arrows) in ciliated bronchial epithelium of child with Kawasaki disease, identified using a monoclonal antibody from another child with Kawasaki disease.


List of publications in PubMed

Laboratory members

David Arrollo, BS, Research Technologist
Leah Gruen, BA, Research Technologist
Stanford Shulman, MD, Director, Lurie Children’s Center for Kawasaki Disease

Contact information

Anne Rowley, MD

Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology/Immunology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Attending physician, Division of Infectious Diseases, Lurie Children's
Phone: 312.503.0821
Email: a-rowley@northwestern.edu