Abstract (Expand)

Microbial invaders are ubiquitously present and pose the constant risk of infections that are opposed by various defence mechanisms of the human immune system. A tight regulation of the immune response ensures clearance of microbial invaders and concomitantly limits host damage that is crucial for host viability. To investigate the counterplay of infection and inflammation, we simulated the invasion of the human-pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus in lung alveoli by evolutionary games on graphs. The layered structure of the innate immune system is represented by a sequence of games in the virtual model. We show that the inflammatory cascade of the immune response is essential for microbial clearance and that the inflammation level correlates with the infection-dose. At low infection-doses, corresponding to daily inhalation of conidia, the resident alveolar macrophages may be sufficient to clear infections, however, at higher infection-doses their primary task shifts towards recruitment of neutrophils to infection sites.

Authors: J. Pollmacher, Sandra Timme, Stefan Schuster, Axel Brakhage, Peter Zipfel, Marc Thilo Figge

Date Published: 13th Jun 2016

Journal: Sci Rep

Abstract (Expand)

The ubiquitous airborne fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus is inhaled by humans every day. In the lung, it is able to quickly adapt to the humid environment and, if not removed within a time frame of 4-8 h, the pathogen may cause damage by germination and invasive growth. Applying a to-scale agent-based model of human alveoli to simulate early A. fumigatus infection under physiological conditions, we recently demonstrated that alveolar macrophages require chemotactic cues to accomplish the task of pathogen detection within the aforementioned time frame. The objective of this study is to specify our general prediction on the as yet unidentified chemokine by a quantitative analysis of its expected properties, such as the diffusion coefficient and the rates of secretion and degradation. To this end, the rule-based implementation of chemokine diffusion in the initial agent-based model is revised by numerically solving the spatio-temporal reaction-diffusion equation in the complex structure of the alveolus. In this hybrid agent-based model, alveolar macrophages are represented as migrating agents that are coupled to the interactive layer of diffusing molecule concentrations by the kinetics of chemokine receptor binding, internalization and re-expression. Performing simulations for more than a million virtual infection scenarios, we find that the ratio of secretion rate to the diffusion coefficient is the main indicator for the success of pathogen detection. Moreover, a subdivision of the parameter space into regimes of successful and unsuccessful parameter combination by this ratio is specific for values of the migration speed and the directional persistence time of alveolar macrophages, but depends only weakly on chemokine degradation rates.

Authors: J. Pollmacher, Marc Thilo Figge

Date Published: 16th Jun 2015

Journal: Front Microbiol

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