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Computer simulation captures immune response to flu
Date:5/18/2009

ers plan to add that aspect to future simulations. Depending on the pathogen at hand and a given patient's past exposure, either T cell or B cell responses may play a larger role in clearing the virus. One cell type may lead the immune counterattack in a person with a first-time infection, and another in a patient who has been infected before or vaccinated.

T cells partner with dendritic cells to make careful decisions about which key pieces of viruses will trigger a full-scale immune counterattack. Dendritic cells roam the body, checking each particle they come across for a self or invader "label." Upon encountering an invader, a dendritic cell will "swallow it," cut it up, and carry the pieces to the nearest lymph node. Once there, proteins inside the dendritic cell "present" protein fragments of the virus on the cell's surface for consideration by T cells gathered there. Once activated by high enough levels of target protein fragment, T cells become capable of destroying the virus.

Using a statistical method called sensitivity analysis, Wu, Zand and colleagues used the new model to compare the individual contribution of various immune cells to clear influenza from the body, including the presentation of fragments of pathogenic proteins on the surface of dendritic cells versus the action of helper and cell-killing T cells versus the direct glomming onto disease-related particles by antibodies. The model predicted that drugs and vaccines that change the presentation by dendritic cells of disease-related protein fragments (antigens) to T cells more strongly impact whether or not a given patient beats the flu than other immune factors in patients infected for the first time. Simulations also suggest that an increase in antigen presentation by dendritic cells can compensate for the increased infection rate of highly virulent influenza strains. Existing adjuvants drugs that strengthen vaccines but have no effect alone are available that enhance th
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Contact: Greg Williams
Greg_Williams@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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