U of U Health Pediatrician Leading Nationwide Effort to Understand COVID-19 Complications in Children

Jan 29, 2021 11:45 AM

Author: Doug Dollemore


University of Utah Health pediatric cardiologist Dongngan Truong, M.D., is co-leading a nationwide study of a rare, extreme immune response to COVID-19 that can cause severe illness in children involving the heart, lungs, blood, kidneys, or brain. Photo credit: Charlie Ehlert

A University of Utah Health pediatric cardiologist is at the forefront of efforts to understand how multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a severe complication of COVID-19, is affecting children long-term—and find the best way to detect and treat children with it.

Dongngan Truong, M.D., is co-leading the nation’s first longitudinal study of this syndrome. The MUSIC study—short for “Long-Term Outcomes after the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome IChildren”—is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and is co-led by Dr. Jane Newburger of Boston Children’s Hospital. Locally, Truong is working in conjunction with Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.

MIS-C is a rare, extreme immune response to COVID-19 that can cause severe illness involving the heart, lungs, blood, kidneys, or brain. Children with MIS-C are hospitalized and often require intensive care. MIS-C also has disproportionately affected Black and Latinx children.

“There are no known risk factors at this point that would make some kids with COVID-19 develop MIS-C and others not,” Truong said. “That’s where research studies like MUSIC are going to play an important role.”

The MUSIC study is the first to examine how MIS-C affects the coronary anatomy and ventricular function of the heart over time, as well as the long-term effect of MIS-C on other organ systems such as the nervous, lung, immune, and gastrointestinal systems. Understanding these effects will help researchers better understand the disease and more quickly detect, treat, and manage MIS-C.   

The study is enrolling about 600 children from the United States and Canada through collaboration with the Pediatric Heart Network, a pediatric research consortium created and funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Study participants are children who have been diagnosed with MIS-C and recovered, along with children who will develop MIS-C over the next two years. The longitudinal study of kids’ outcomes will take place over the next five years.

The MUSIC study will be conducted at more than 30 academic institutions across the United States and Canada. It’s part of a comprehensive Department of Health and Human Services and NIH strategy to understand MIS-C and pediatric COVID-19 as quickly as possible. 

Research News Pediatrics COVID-19 MIS-C