Systems biology approaches for understanding cellular mechanisms of immunity in lymph nodes during infection

Henry P. Mirsky, Mark J. Miller, Jennifer J. Linderman, Denise E. Kirschner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Adaptive immunity is initiated in secondary lymphoid tissues when naive T cells recognize foreign antigen presented as MHC-bound peptide on the surface of dendritic cells. Only a small fraction of T cells in the naive repertoire will express T cell receptors specific for a given epitope, but antigen recognition triggers T cell activation and proliferation, thus greatly expanding antigen-specific clones. Expanded T cells can serve a helper function for B cell responses or traffic to sites of infection to secrete cytokines or kill infected cells. Over the past decade, two-photon microscopy of lymphoid tissues has shed important light on T cell development, antigen recognition, cell trafficking and effector functions. These data have enabled the development of sophisticated quantitative and computational models that, in turn, have been used to test hypotheses in silico that would otherwise be impossible or difficult to explore experimentally. Here, we review these models and their principal findings and highlight remaining questions where modeling approaches are poised to advance our understanding of complex immunological systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-170
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 21 2011


  • Agent-based models
  • Cellular-Potts models
  • Dendritic cells
  • Markov models
  • Two-photon microscopy


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