Li K, McCaw JM, Cao P. Modelling within-host macrophage dynamics in influenza virus infection. J Theor Biol. 2020 Sep 20:110492
Human respiratory disease associated with influenza virus infection is of significant public health concern. Macrophages, as part of the front line of host innate cellular defence, have been shown to play an important role in controlling viral replication. However, fatal outcomes of infection, as evidenced in patients infected with highly pathogenic viral strains, are often associated with prompt activation and excessive accumulation of macrophages. Activated macrophages can produce a large amount of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which leads to severe symptoms and at times death. However, the mechanism for rapid activation and excessive accumulation of macrophages during infection remains unclear. It has been suggested that the phenomena may arise from complex interactions between macrophages and influenza virus. In this work, we develop a novel mathematical model to study the relationship between the level of macrophage activation and the level of viral load in influenza infection. Our model combines a dynamic model of viral infection, a dynamic model of macrophages and the essential interactions between the virus and macrophages. Our model predicts that the level of macrophage activation can be negatively correlated with the level of viral load when viral infectivity is sufficiently high. We further identify that temporary depletion of resting macrophages in response to viral infection is a major driver in our model for the negative relationship between the level of macrophage activation and viral load, providing new insight into the mechanisms that regulate macrophage activation. Our model serves as a framework to study the complex dynamics of virus-macrophage interactions and provides a mechanistic explanation for existing experimental observations, contributing to an enhanced understanding of the role of macrophages in influenza viral infection.
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