IRP researchers uncover genes linked to common recurrent fever in children

Study shows mutations in inflammation-related genes are associated with PFAPA syndrome

Researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, have discovered clues to the possible cause of recurring, non-contagious fevers and sores that affect only children. Several genes have been implicated with the syndrome, known as PFAPA syndrome (Periodic Fever, Aphthous Stomatitis, Pharyngitis, Adenitis), which could lead to new treatments. The results were published in the journal PNAS this week.

The findings were made possible by the realization of commonalities with other chronic inflammatory conditions that also involved sores on the body, including the common canker sore. The study illustrates how long-standing health mysteries may now be solved when researchers discover new biological connections with the help of increasing amounts of genomic data.

In 1987, researchers first described a syndrome seen in 12 children, which was marked by recurrent fever, painful canker sores, sore throat and inflamed lymph nodes. The condition starts at an early age, between the ages of 1 and 5. The first sign is fever, accompanied by sore throat with redness and other symptoms.

“PFAPA syndrome is the most periodic of periodic fevers, with many children having an episode every month lasting three to five days,” said Kalpana Manthiram, M.D., Clinical Fellow at NHGRI and lead author of the study. “That is an immense burden on families since these kids cannot go to school and may be bedridden for days during flares.”

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This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022