A Diagnostic Model for Kawasaki Disease Based on Immune Cell Characterization From Blood Samples

Shangming Du, Ulrich Mansmann, Benjamin P. Geisler, Yingxia Li, Roman Hornung

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Background: Kawasaki disease (KD) is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children. However, distinguishing KD from febrile infections early in the disease course remains difficult. Our goal was to estimate the immune cell composition in KD patients and febrile controls (FC), and to develop a tool for KD diagnosis. Methods: We used a machine-learning algorithm, CIBERSORT, to estimate the proportions of 22 immune cell types based on blood samples from children with KD and FC. Using these immune cell compositions, a diagnostic score for predicting KD was then constructed based on LASSO regression for binary outcomes. Results: In the training set (n = 496), a model was fit which consisted of eight types of immune cells. The area under the curve (AUC) values for diagnosing KD in a held-out test set (n = 212) and an external validation set (n = 36) were 0.80 and 0.77, respectively. The most common cell types in KD blood samples were monocytes, neutrophils, CD4+-naïve and CD8+ T cells, and M0 macrophages. The diagnostic score was highly correlated to genes that had been previously reported as associated with KD, such as interleukins and chemokine receptors, and enriched in reported pathways, such as IL-6/JAK/STAT3 and TNFα signaling pathways. Conclusion: Altogether, the diagnostic score for predicting KD could potentially serve as a biomarker. Prospective studies could evaluate how incorporating the diagnostic score into a clinical algorithm would improve diagnostic accuracy further.

Original languageEnglish
Article number769937
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Pediatrics
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • biomarker
  • diagnosis
  • immune cell
  • Kawasaki disease
  • LASSO model


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