JOURNAL ARTICLE
OBSERVATIONAL STUDY
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Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome of Children: Subphenotypes, Risk Factors, Biomarkers, Cytokine Profiles, and Viral Sequencing.

OBJECTIVE: To assess demographic, clinical, and biomarker features distinguishing patients with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C); compare MIS-C sub-phenotypes; identify cytokine biosignatures; and characterize viral genome sequences.

STUDY DESIGN: We performed a prospective observational cohort study of 124 children hospitalized and treated under the institutional MIS-C Task Force protocol from March to September 2020 at Children's National, a quaternary freestanding children's hospital in Washington, DC. Of this cohort, 63 of the patients had the diagnosis of MIS-C (39 confirmed, 24 probable) and 61 were from the same cohort of admitted patients who subsequently had an alternative diagnosis (controls).

RESULTS: Median age and sex were similar between MIS-C and controls. Black (46%) and Latino (35%) children were over-represented in the MIS-C cohort, with Black children at greatest risk (OR 4.62, 95% CI 1.151-14.10; P = .007). Cardiac complications were more frequent in critically ill patients with MIS-C (55% vs 28%; P = .04) including systolic myocardial dysfunction (39% vs 3%; P = .001) and valvular regurgitation (33% vs 7%; P = .01). Median cycle threshold was 31.8 (27.95-35.1 IQR) in MIS-C cases, significantly greater (indicating lower viral load) than in primary severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection. Cytokines soluble interleukin 2 receptor, interleukin [IL]-10, and IL-6 were greater in patients with MIS-C compared with controls. Cytokine analysis revealed subphenotype differences between critically ill vs noncritically ill (IL-2, soluble interleukin 2 receptor, IL-10, IL-6); polymerase chain reaction positive vs negative (tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-10, IL-6); and presence vs absence of cardiac abnormalities (IL-17). Phylogenetic analysis of viral genome sequences revealed predominance of GH clade originating in Europe, with no differences comparing patients with MIS-C with patients with primary coronavirus disease 19. Treatment was well tolerated, and no children died.

CONCLUSIONS: This study establishes a well-characterized large cohort of MIS-C evaluated and treated following a standardized protocol and identifies key clinical, biomarker, cytokine, viral load, and sequencing features. Long-term follow-up will provide opportunity for future insights into MIS-C and its sequelae.

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