Unraveling the pathogenesis of periodic fever, aphthous stomatitis, pharyngitis, and cervical adenitis through genetic, immunologic, and microbiologic discoveries: an update

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Purpose of review

Periodic fever, aphthous stomatitis, pharyngitis, and cervical adenitis (PFAPA) syndrome is considered the most common periodic fever syndrome of childhood. Although it was first described three decades ago, the pathogenesis has been poorly understood. Recent studies on the heritability and immunology of the disorder have begun to shed light into the mechanisms of this autoinflammatory disorder. This review will focus on the pathogenesis of PFAPA, especially as it pertains to the genetic susceptibility, tonsillar immunology, and the role of the microbiome.

Recent findings

Recent literature provides insights into the heritability, potential genetic modifiers, and the immunologic and microbiological profile of the tonsils in this syndrome.


Evidence is mounting that PFAPA is inherited as a complex genetic disease. Furthermore, tonsillectomy is curative in the majority of patients, including those who do not meet the complete clinical criteria for PFAPA. The tonsils in PFAPA patients may exhibit unique immunologic and microbiological features. The goal of this review is to outline these new developments.

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