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Is Kawasaki Disease Genetic?

Kawasaki is a sudden and acute disease occurring in young children. Not undergoing treatment may lead to the tanning of arterial walls and disruption in blood supply to the heart in almost 15-20 percent of the individuals. The exact cause of this condition is not known; however, various factors result in the increased risk of occurrence of disease. Factors that contribute are age, sex, and ethnicity, and infection, viral and bacterial and genetic predisposition.

Is Kawasaki Disease Genetic?

Despite the absence of any etiologic factor, genetic predisposition in the occurrence of Kawasaki disease is the area under progressive research. This is due to the fact that regardless of the countries of residence, people from Japanese ethnicity are more likely to develop the condition. This strongly indicates the effect of genes, an effect which has a greater impact than the environmental factors. (1)

According to comprehensive data, it is estimated that the siblings of the children suffering from Kawasaki disease have almost 6-10 times increased the risk of having the condition. Further, it has also been estimated that the parents of the children with Kawasaki disease are twice more prone to the condition in their childhood as compared to the parents of normal children. All the above statistics indicate that there is a strong correlation between the genetic factors and the Kawasaki disease.

Three important pathways are discovered, that plays a major role in the pathogenesis of the disease. All of these pathways are associated with the genes and the execution of information contained in them.

The first pathway involves the calcineurin-nuclear factor, that involves the encoding of the gene encoding 1,4,5-trisphosphate 3-kinase on chromosome 19q13.2, that plays a major role in the development of a coronary aneurysm. There is a second pathway in which the contributing factors in coronary aneurysm are the single nucleotide polymorphism in TGFβ2, TGFβR2, and SMAD3. The third pathway involving in the coronary aneurysm is single nucleotide polymorphism in the FCGR2A.

Causes Of Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki disease is the disease characterized by the presence of inflammation in the blood vessels all over the body. It is most commonly found in young children. The exact cause of the disease is not known however various factors such as infection and genetic factors are combined to increases the risk of development of the disease. Further, the disease is non-contagious and thus will not passes from person to person. Following are the contributory factors that increase the incidence of the Kawasaki disease:

Infection: Infection increases the risk of development of Kawasaki Disease. It is believed that both bacterial and viral infection is the reason for the disease, however, researches fail to arrive at any such conclusion. Further, as the disease is non-contagious, thus it is highly unlikely that it may be progressed through viral infection.

Age: The disease is developed in younger children and is less common in adults. It may cause serious complications if developed in infants of less than 1 years of age.

Sex: According to the available data, boys are more likely to develop the disease as compared to girls.

Ethnicity: Japanese children have a high risk of developing the disease as compared to Caucasian children. The Japanese children have almost 10 to 15-times risk of developing the condition.

Genetics: Various researches have indicated the involvement of genes in the occurrence of Kawasaki disease. Often, more than one children of the family get affected indicating that the genes and their mutation and family history play some role in the development of the disease.


Although not conclusively mentioned in the studies, data analysis shows that genetics is the important contributory factor in the development of Kawasaki disease. Children with the siblings suffering from Kawasaki disease are 6 t0 10 times higher risk and the disease is more common in Japanese ethnicity indicating genetic involvement.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6224133/

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 15, 2019

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