Periodic fever, aphthous stomatitis, pharyngitis, and adenitis (PFAPA) is a disorder of innate immunity and Th1 activation responsive to IL-1 blockade.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 04/2011; 108(17):7148-53. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1103681108
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The syndrome of periodic fever, aphthous stomatitis, pharyngitis, and cervical adenitis (PFAPA) is the most common periodic fever disease in children. However, the pathogenesis is unknown. Using a systems biology approach we analyzed blood samples from PFAPA patients whose genetic testing excluded hereditary periodic fevers (HPFs), and from healthy children and pediatric HPF patients. Gene expression profiling could clearly distinguish PFAPA flares from asymptomatic intervals, HPF flares, and healthy controls. During PFAPA attacks, complement (C1QB, C2, SERPING1), IL-1-related (IL-1B, IL-1RN, CASP1, IL18RAP), and IFN-induced (AIM2, IP-10/CXCL10) genes were significantly overexpressed, but T cell-associated transcripts (CD3, CD8B) were down-regulated. On the protein level, PFAPA flares were accompanied by significantly increased serum levels of chemokines for activated T lymphocytes (IP-10/CXCL10, MIG/CXCL9), G-CSF, and proinflammatory cytokines (IL-18, IL-6). PFAPA flares also manifested a relative lymphopenia. Activated CD4(+)/CD25(+) T-lymphocyte counts correlated negatively with serum concentrations of IP-10/CXCL10, whereas CD4(+)/HLA-DR(+) T lymphocyte counts correlated positively with serum concentrations of the counterregulatory IL-1 receptor antagonist. Based on the evidence for IL-1β activation in PFAPA flares, we treated five PFAPA patients with a recombinant IL-1 receptor antagonist. All patients showed a prompt clinical and IP-10/CXCL10 response. Our data suggest an environmentally triggered activation of complement and IL-1β/-18 during PFAPA flares, with induction of Th1-chemokines and subsequent retention of activated T cells in peripheral tissues. IL-1 inhibition may thus be beneficial for treatment of PFAPA attacks, with IP-10/CXCL10 serving as a potential biomarker.

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    ABSTRACT: Objective Periodic fever, aphthous stomatitis, pharyngitis, and cervical adenitis (PFAPA) syndrome is an autoinflammatory disease of unknown etiology that primarily affects preschool-aged children. PFAPA syndrome is characterized by recurrent attacks of fever and symptoms of inflammation consistent with the disease acronym. Since autoinflammatory diseases are, by definition, mediated by cells of the innate immune system, the aim of this study was to evaluate the functional features of neutrophils, the most abundant innate immune cell in the circulation, in children with PFAPA syndrome. Methods Blood polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs), obtained from patients with PFAPA syndrome during both febrile and asymptomatic, afebrile phases of the disease, as well as from healthy children (afebrile controls) and children with fever and abdominal pain (febrile controls), were analyzed for 3 key neutrophil characteristics: 1) apoptosis (measured by annexin V/7-aminoactinomycin D staining), 2) production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) (measured by luminol/isoluminol-amplified chemiluminescence), and 3) priming status (measured as responsiveness to galectin-3 and up-regulation of CD11b). ResultsCompared to PMNs obtained from patients with PFAPA syndrome during an afebrile interval and those from febrile controls, PMNs obtained from patients during a PFAPA syndrome flare produced elevated levels of intracellular NADPH oxidase–derived ROS, had significantly diminished rates of spontaneous apoptosis, and displayed signatures of priming. In contrast, PMNs from afebrile patients with PFAPA syndrome had a significantly elevated rate of spontaneous apoptosis compared to PMNs from afebrile controls. Conclusion These findings demonstrate that 3 key aspects of neutrophil innate immune function, namely, apoptosis, priming, and generation of an intracellular oxidative burst, are altered, most prominently during febrile attacks, in children with PFAPA syndrome.
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