Mathematical Biology Seminar

Peter Kim
University of Utah
Wednesday Sept. 3, 2008
3:05pm in LCB 215
"Unraveling immune regulation "

Abstract: We develop a mathematical framework for modeling regulatory mechanisms in the adaptive immune system. The model describes dynamics of several components of the immune system, including effector and regulatory T cells, antigen-presenting cells, and cell signaling. The model also incorporates two key microenvironments: the lymph node and the tissue.

The model captures three features of the dynamics and regulation of the primary adaptive response: 1) Transition between expansion and contraction phases of the immune response, 2) Self/non-self discrimination, and 3) T cell traffic between the lymph node and tissue during the course of the primary response. All three of these self-regulatory mechanisms are mediated in large part by regulatory T cells.

In this talk, we focus primarily on deepening our understanding the first point, namely the timely transition between expansion and contraction phases. In trying to unravel the mechanism behind a normal, healthy T cell response, we draw connections to the behavior of other well-known excitable systems studied in molecular biology and physiology.

Although various computational models exist, the fundamental dynamics of immune regulation still remains unexplained, so in closing, we propose a few potential approaches to unraveling this mystery.