How does our body defend itself against viral infections? Modelling T-cell activation

If a virus enters a host it spreads quickly because it can multiply very rapidly. How does the host defend itself against a viral infection? The cellular immune system (CIS) detects the presence of pathogens (pathogen means capable of killing) and eliminates the infection.

In this project we will focus on the detection and recognition of pathogens by the CIS. In order to avoid auto-immune responses, which harm healthy tissues, the CIS must discriminate between self and non-self antigens (antigen means capable of evoking an immune response).

T-cells are white blood cells that perform this recognition task. How do they learn to be self tolerant and recognize the presence of pathogens?

In this project we will make use of a mathematical model of T-cell activation (at both the cellular and cell population levels) that can answer the following question:

(1) How does the CIS avoid auto-immune responses most of the time,

(2) yet still achieves a large probability of recognizing pathogens?

Read more in a .pdf file

Carmen Molina- París

Department of Applied Mathematics
University of Leeds
Leeds, LS2 9JT, U.K.

Last Updated: 1 May 2003