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Hereditary periodic fever syndromes.

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  • 1Genetics and Genomics Branch, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The hereditary periodic fevers are a group of Mendelian disorders characterized by seemingly unprovoked fever and localized inflammation. Recent data indicate that these illnesses represent inborn errors in the regulation of innate immunity. Pyrin, the protein mutated in familial Mediterranean fever, defines an N-terminal domain found in a large family of proteins involved in inflammation and apoptosis. Through this domain pyrin may play a role in the regulation of interleukin (IL)-1beta, nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB, and leukocyte apoptosis. Cryopyrin/NALP3, another protein in this family, is mutated in three other hereditary febrile syndromes and participates in the inflammasome, a newly recognized macromolecular complex crucial to IL-1beta activation. Somewhat unexpectedly, mutations in the 55 kDa receptor for tumor necrosis factor also give rise to a dominantly inherited periodic fever syndrome, rather than immunodeficiency, a finding that has stimulated important investigations into both pathogenesis and treatment. Finally, the discovery of the genetic basis of the hyperimmunoglobulinemia D with periodic fever syndrome suggests an as yet incompletely understood connection between the mevalonate pathway and the regulation of cytokine production. These insights extend our understanding of the regulation of innate immunity in man, while providing the conceptual basis for the rational design of targeted therapies, both for the hereditary periodic fevers themselves and other inflammatory disorders as well.

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