• Observers for biological systems

      Alanis, Alma Y.; Hernandez-Gonzalez, Miguel; Hernandez-Vargas, Esteban Abelardo; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2014-11)
    • On the Immunological Consequences of Conventionally Fractionated Radiotherapy.

      Alfonso, Juan Carlos L; Papaxenopoulou, Lito A; Mascheroni, Pietro; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Hatzikirou, Haralampos; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier/Cell Press, 2020-02-11)
      Emerging evidence demonstrates that radiotherapy induces immunogenic death on tumor cells that emit immunostimulating signals resulting in tumor-specific immune responses. However, the impact of tumor features and microenvironmental factors on the efficacy of radiation-induced immunity remains to be elucidated. Herein, we use a calibrated model of tumor-effector cell interactions to investigate the potential benefits and immunological consequences of radiotherapy. Simulations analysis suggests that radiotherapy success depends on the functional tumor vascularity extent and reveals that the pre-treatment tumor size is not a consistent determinant of treatment outcomes. The one-size-fits-all approach of conventionally fractionated radiotherapy is predicted to result in some overtreated patients. In addition, model simulations also suggest that an arbitrary increase in treatment duration does not necessarily result in better tumor control. This study highlights the potential benefits of tumor-immune ecosystem profiling during treatment planning to better harness the immunogenic potential of radiotherapy.
    • On the Impact of Chemo-Mechanically Induced Phenotypic Transitions in Gliomas.

      Mascheroni, Pietro; López Alfonso, Juan Carlos; Kalli, Maria; Stylianopoulos, Triantafyllos; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Hatzikirou, Haralampos; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MPDI, 2019-05-24)
      Tumor microenvironment is a critical player in glioma progression, and novel therapies for its targeting have been recently proposed. In particular, stress-alleviation strategies act on the tumor by reducing its stiffness, decreasing solid stresses and improving blood perfusion. However, these microenvironmental changes trigger chemo–mechanically induced cellular phenotypic transitions whose impact on therapy outcomes is not completely understood. In this work we analyze the effects of mechanical compression on migration and proliferation of glioma cells. We derive a mathematical model of glioma progression focusing on cellular phenotypic plasticity. Our results reveal a trade-off between tumor infiltration and cellular content as a consequence of stress-alleviation approaches. We discuss how these novel findings increase the current understanding of glioma/microenvironment interactions and can contribute to new strategies for improved therapeutic outcomes. View Full-Text
    • Optimal therapy scheduling for a simplified HIV infection model

      Hernandez-Vargas, Esteban Abelardo; Colaneri, Patrizio; Middleton, Richard H.; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2014-07-09)
    • Oseltamivir PK/PD Modeling and Simulation to Evaluate Treatment Strategies against Influenza-Pneumococcus Coinfection.

      Boianelli, Alessandro; Sharma-Chawla, Niharika; Bruder, Dunja; Hernandez-Vargas, Esteban Abelardo; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      Influenza pandemics and seasonal outbreaks have shown the potential of Influenza A virus (IAV) to enhance susceptibility to a secondary infection with the bacterial pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae (Sp). The high morbidity and mortality rate revealed the poor efficacy of antiviral drugs and vaccines to fight IAV infections. Currently, the most effective treatment for IAV is by antiviral neuraminidase inhibitors. Among them, the most frequently stockpiled is Oseltamivir which reduces viral release and transmission. However, effectiveness of Oseltamivir is compromised by the emergence of resistant IAV strains and secondary bacterial infections. To date, little attention has been given to evaluate how Oseltamivir treatment strategies alter Influenza viral infection in presence of Sp coinfection and a resistant IAV strain emergence. In this paper we investigate the efficacy of current approved Oseltamivir treatment regimens using a computational approach. Our numerical results suggest that the curative regimen (75 mg) may yield 47% of antiviral efficacy and 9% of antibacterial efficacy. An increment in dose to 150 mg (pandemic regimen) may increase the antiviral efficacy to 49% and the antibacterial efficacy to 16%. The choice to decrease the intake frequency to once per day is not recommended due to a significant reduction in both antiviral and antibacterial efficacy. We also observe that the treatment duration of 10 days may not provide a clear improvement on the antiviral and antibacterial efficacy compared to 5 days. All together, our in silico study reveals the success and pitfalls of Oseltamivir treatment strategies within IAV-Sp coinfection and calls for testing the validity in clinical trials.
    • PD-1 Blockade Aggravates Epstein-Barr Virus Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder in Humanized Mice Resulting in Central Nervous System Involvement and CD4 T Cell Dysregulations.

      Volk, Valery; Theobald, Sebastian J; Danisch, Simon; Khailaie, Sahamoddin; Kalbarczyk, Maja; Schneider, Andreas; Bialek-Waldmann, Julia; Krönke, Nicole; Deng, Yun; Eiz-Vesper, Britta; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-01-12)
      Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) is one of the most common malignancies after solid organ or allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Most PTLD cases are B cell neoplasias carrying Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). A therapeutic approach is reduction of immunosuppression to allow T cells to develop and combat EBV. If this is not effective, approaches include immunotherapies such as monoclonal antibodies targeting CD20 and adoptive T cells. Immune checkpoint inhibition (ICI) to treat EBV+ PTLD was not established clinically due to the risks of organ rejection and graft-versus-host disease. Previously, blockade of the programmed death receptor (PD)-1 by a monoclonal antibody (mAb) during ex vivo infection of mononuclear cells with the EBV/M81+ strain showed lower xenografted lymphoma development in mice. Subsequently, fully humanized mice infected with the EBV/B95-8 strain and treated in vivo with a PD-1 blocking mAb showed aggravation of PTLD and lymphoma development. Here, we evaluated vis-a-vis in fully humanized mice after EBV/B95-8 or EBV/M81 infections the effects of a clinically used PD-1 blocker. Fifteen to 17 weeks after human CD34+ stem cell transplantation, Nod.Rag.Gamma mice were infected with two types of EBV laboratory strains expressing firefly luciferase. Dynamic optical imaging analyses showed systemic EBV infections and this triggered vigorous human CD8+ T cell expansion. Pembrolizumab administered from 2 to 5 weeks post-infections significantly aggravated EBV systemic spread and, for the M81 model, significantly increased the mortality of mice. ICI promoted Ki67+CD30+CD20+EBER+PD-L1+ PTLD with central nervous system (CNS) involvement, mirroring EBV+ CNS PTLD in humans. PD-1 blockade was associated with lower frequencies of circulating T cells in blood and with a profound collapse of CD4+ T cells in lymphatic tissues. Mice treated with pembrolizumab showed an escalation of exhausted T cells expressing TIM-3, and LAG-3 in tissues, higher levels of several human cytokines in plasma and high densities of FoxP3+ regulatory CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the tumor microenvironment. We conclude that PD-1 blockade during acute EBV infections driving strong CD8+ T cell priming decompensates T cell development towards immunosuppression. Given the variety of preclinical models available, our models conferred a cautionary note indicating that PD-1 blockade aggravated the progression of EBV+ PTLD.
    • Permissive selection followed by affinity-based proliferation of GC light zone B cells dictates cell fate and ensures clonal breadth.

      Nakagawa, Rinako; Toboso-Navasa, Amparo; Schips, Marta; Young, George; Bhaw-Rosun, Leena; Llorian-Sopena, Miriam; Chakravarty, Probir; Sesay, Abdul Karim; Kassiotis, George; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; et al. (National Academy of Sciences, 2021-01-12)
      Affinity maturation depends on how efficiently germinal centers (GCs) positively select B cells in the light zone (LZ). Positively selected GC B cells recirculate between LZs and dark zones (DZs) and ultimately differentiate into plasmablasts (PBs) and memory B cells (MBCs). Current understanding of the GC reaction presumes that cMyc-dependent positive selection of LZ B cells is a competitive affinity-dependent process; however, this cannot explain the production of GC-derived lower-affinity MBCs or retention of GC B cells with varied affinities. Here, by combining single-cell/bulk RNA sequencing and flow cytometry, we identified and characterized temporally and functionally distinct positively selected cMyc+ GC B cell subpopulations. cMyc+ LZ B cell subpopulations enriched with either higher- or lower-affinity cells diverged soon after permissive positive selection. The former subpopulation contained PB precursors, whereas the latter comprised less proliferative MBC precursors and future DZ entrants. The overall affinity of future DZ entrants was enhanced in the LZ through preferential proliferation of higher-affinity cells. Concurrently, lower-affinity cells were retained in GCs and protected from apoptosis. These findings redefine positive selection as a dynamic process generating three distinct B cell fates and elucidate how positive selection ensures clonal diversity for broad protection.
    • PK/PD-based adaptive tailoring of oseltamivir doses to treat within-host influenza viral infections.

      Montaseri, Ghazal; Boianelli, Alessandro; Hernandez-Vargas, Esteban A; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-07-19)
      Influenza A virus (IAV) is a latent global threat to human health. In view of the risk of pandemics, prophylactic and curative treatments are essential. Oseltamivir is a neuraminidase inhibitor efficiently supporting recovery from influenza infections. Current common clinical practice is a constant drug dose (75 or 150 mg) administered at regular time intervals twice a day. We aim to use quantitative systems pharmacology to propose an efficient adaptive drug scheduling. We combined the mathematical model for IAV infections validated by murine data, which captures the viral dynamics and the dynamics of the immune host response, with a pharmacokinetic (PK)/pharmacodynamic (PD) model of oseltamivir. Next, we applied an adaptive impulsive feedback control method to systematically calculate the adaptive dose of oseltamivir in dependence on the viral load and the number of immune effectors at the time of drug administration. Our in silico results revealed that the treatment with adaptive control-based drug scheduling is able to either increase the drug virological efficacy or reduce the drug dose while keeping the same virological efficacy. Thus, adaptive adjustment of the drug dose would reduce not only the potential side effects but also the amount of stored oseltamivir required for the prevention of outbreaks.
    • Population Dynamics of Borrelia burgdorferi in Lyme Disease.

      Binder, Sebastian C; Telschow, Arndt; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Department of Systems Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research Braunschweig, Germany. (2012)
      Many chronic inflammatory diseases are known to be caused by persistent bacterial or viral infections. A well-studied example is the tick-borne infection by the gram-negative spirochaetes of the genus Borrelia in humans and other mammals, causing severe symptoms of chronic inflammation and subsequent tissue damage (Lyme Disease), particularly in large joints and the central nervous system, but also in the heart and other tissues of untreated patients. Although killed efficiently by human phagocytic cells in vitro, Borrelia exhibits a remarkably high infectivity in mice and men. In experimentally infected mice, the first immune response almost clears the infection. However, approximately 1 week post infection, the bacterial population recovers and reaches an even larger size before entering the chronic phase. We developed a mathematical model describing the bacterial growth and the immune response against Borrelia burgdorferi in the C3H mouse strain that has been established as an experimental model for Lyme disease. The peculiar dynamics of the infection exclude two possible mechanistic explanations for the regrowth of the almost cleared bacteria. Neither the hypothesis of bacterial dissemination to different tissues nor a limitation of phagocytic capacity were compatible with experiment. The mathematical model predicts that Borrelia recovers from the strong initial immune response by the regrowth of an immune-resistant sub-population of the bacteria. The chronic phase appears as an equilibration of bacterial growth and adaptive immunity. This result has major implications for the development of the chronic phase of Borrelia infections as well as on potential protective clinical interventions.
    • Postprandial Metabolic Effects of Fiber Mixes Revealed by in vivo Stable Isotope Labeling in Humans.

      Schlicker, Lisa; Boers, Hanny M; Dudek, Christian-Alexander; Zhao, Gang; Barua, Arnab; Trezzi, Jean-Pierre; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Jacobs, Doris M; Hiller, Karsten; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (MPDI, 2019-05-07)
      Food supplementation with a fiber mix of guar gum and chickpea flour represents a promising approach to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) by attenuating postprandial glycemia. To investigate the effects on postprandial metabolic fluxes of glucose-derived metabolites in response to this fiber mix, a randomized, cross-over study was designed. Twelve healthy, male subjects consumed three different flatbreads either supplemented with 2% guar gum or 4% guar gum and 15% chickpea flour or without supplementation (control). The flatbreads were enriched with ~2% of 13C-labeled wheat flour. Blood was collected at 16 intervals over a period of 360 min after bread intake and plasma samples were analyzed by GC-MS based metabolite profiling combined with stable isotope-assisted metabolomics. Although metabolite levels of the downstream metabolites of glucose, specifically lactate and alanine, were not altered in response to the fiber mix, supplementation of 4% guar gum was shown to significantly delay and reduce the exogenous formation of these metabolites. Metabolic modeling and computation of appearance rates revealed that the effects induced by the fiber mix were strongest for glucose and attenuated downstream of glucose. Further investigations to explore the potential of fiber mix supplementation to counteract the development of metabolic diseases are warranted.
    • Progressive contraction of the latent HIV reservoir around a core of less-differentiated CD4⁺ memory T Cells.

      Jaafoura, S; de Goër de Herve, M G; Hernandez-Vargas, Esteban Abelardo; Hendel-Chavez, H; Abdoh, M; Mateo, M C; Krzysiek, R; Merad, M; Seng, R; Tardieu, M; et al. (2014)
      In patients who are receiving prolonged antiretroviral treatment (ART), HIV can persist within a small pool of long-lived resting memory CD4(+) T cells infected with integrated latent virus. This latent reservoir involves distinct memory subsets. Here we provide results that suggest a progressive reduction of the size of the blood latent reservoir around a core of less-differentiated memory subsets (central memory and stem cell-like memory (TSCM) CD4(+) T cells). This process appears to be driven by the differences in initial sizes and decay rates between latently infected memory subsets. Our results also suggest an extreme stability of the TSCM sub-reservoir, the size of which is directly related to cumulative plasma virus exposure before the onset of ART, stressing the importance of early initiation of effective ART. The presence of these intrinsic dynamics within the latent reservoir may have implications for the design of optimal HIV therapeutic purging strategies.
    • The Quest for System-Theoretical Medicine in the COVID-19 Era.

      Tretter, Felix; Wolkenhauer, Olaf; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Dietrich, Johannes W; Green, Sara; Marcum, James; Weckwerth, Wolfram; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2021-03-29)
      Precision medicine and molecular systems medicine (MSM) are highly utilized and successful approaches to improve understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of many diseases from bench-to-bedside. Especially in the COVID-19 pandemic, molecular techniques and biotechnological innovation have proven to be of utmost importance for rapid developments in disease diagnostics and treatment, including DNA and RNA sequencing technology, treatment with drugs and natural products and vaccine development. The COVID-19 crisis, however, has also demonstrated the need for systemic thinking and transdisciplinarity and the limits of MSM: the neglect of the bio-psycho-social systemic nature of humans and their context as the object of individual therapeutic and population-oriented interventions. COVID-19 illustrates how a medical problem requires a transdisciplinary approach in epidemiology, pathology, internal medicine, public health, environmental medicine, and socio-economic modeling. Regarding the need for conceptual integration of these different kinds of knowledge we suggest the application of general system theory (GST). This approach endorses an organism-centered view on health and disease, which according to Ludwig von Bertalanffy who was the founder of GST, we call Organismal Systems Medicine (OSM). We argue that systems science offers wider applications in the field of pathology and can contribute to an integrative systems medicine by (i) integration of evidence across functional and structural differentially scaled subsystems, (ii) conceptualization of complex multilevel systems, and (iii) suggesting mechanisms and non-linear relationships underlying the observed phenomena. We underline these points with a proposal on multi-level systems pathology including neurophysiology, endocrinology, immune system, genetics, and general metabolism. An integration of these areas is necessary to understand excess mortality rates and polypharmacological treatments. In the pandemic era this multi-level systems pathology is most important to assess potential vaccines, their effectiveness, short-, and long-time adverse effects. We further argue that these conceptual frameworks are not only valid in the COVID-19 era but also important to be integrated in a medicinal curriculum.
    • Rate of Immune Complex Cycling in Follicular Dendritic Cells Determines the Extent of Protecting Antigen Integrity and Availability to Germinal Center B Cells.

      Arulraj, Theinmozhi; Binder, Sebastian C; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Association of Immunologists, 2021-02-19)
    • Regulatory roles of IL-10-producing human follicular T cells.

      Cañete, Pablo F; Sweet, Rebecca A; Gonzalez-Figueroa, Paula; Papa, Ilenia; Ohkura, Naganari; Bolton, Holly; Roco, Jonathan A; Cuenca, Marta; Bassett, Katharine J; Sayin, Ismail; et al. (Rockefeller University Press, 2019-06-17)
      Mucosal lymphoid tissues such as human tonsil are colonized by bacteria and exposed to ingested and inhaled antigens, requiring tight regulation of immune responses. Antibody responses are regulated by follicular helper T (TFH) cells and FOXP3+ follicular regulatory T (TFR) cells. Here we describe a subset of human tonsillar follicular T cells identified by expression of TFH markers and CD25 that are the main source of follicular T (TF) cell-derived IL-10. Despite lack of FOXP3 expression, CD25+ TF cells resemble T reg cells in high CTLA4 expression, low IL-2 production, and their ability to repress T cell proliferation. CD25+ TF cell-derived IL-10 dampens induction of B cell class-switching to IgE. In children, circulating total IgE titers were inversely correlated with the frequencies of tonsil CD25+ TF cells and IL-10-producing TF cells but not with total T reg cells, TFR, or IL-10-producing T cells. Thus, CD25+ TF cells emerge as a subset with unique T and B cell regulatory activities that may help prevent atopy.
    • Repertoire characterization and validation of gB-specific human IgGs directly cloned from humanized mice vaccinated with dendritic cells and protected against HCMV.

      Theobald, Sebastian J; Kreer, Christoph; Khailaie, Sahamoddin; Bonifacius, Agnes; Eiz-Vesper, Britta; Figueiredo, Constanca; Mach, Michael; Backovic, Marija; Ballmaier, Matthias; Koenig, Johannes; et al. (2020-07-15)
      Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) causes serious complications to immune compromised hosts. Dendritic cells (iDCgB) expressing granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, interferon-alpha and HCMV-gB were developed to promote de novo antiviral adaptive responses. Mice reconstituted with a human immune system (HIS) were immunized with iDCgB and challenged with HCMV, resulting into 93% protection. Immunization stimulated the expansion of functional effector memory CD8+ and CD4+ T cells recognizing gB. Machine learning analyses confirmed bone marrow T/CD4+, liver B/IgA+ and spleen B/IgG+ cells as predictive biomarkers of immunization (≈87% accuracy). CD8+ and CD4+ T cell responses against gB were validated. Splenic gB-binding IgM-/IgG+ B cells were sorted and analyzed at a single cell level. iDCgB immunizations elicited human-like IgG responses with a broad usage of various IgG heavy chain V gene segments harboring variable levels of somatic hypermutation. From this search, two gB-binding human monoclonal IgGs were generated that neutralized HCMV infection in vitro. Passive immunization with these antibodies provided proof-of-concept evidence of protection against HCMV infection. This HIS/HCMV in vivo model system supported the validation of novel active and passive immune therapies for future clinical translation.
    • Signatures of T and B Cell Development, Functional Responses and PD-1 Upregulation After HCMV Latent Infections and Reactivations in Nod.Rag.Gamma Mice Humanized With Cord Blood CD34 Cells.

      Theobald, Sebastian J; Khailaie, Sahamoddin; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Volk, Valery; Olbrich, Henning; Danisch, Simon; Gerasch, Laura; Schneider, Andreas; Sinzger, Christian; Schaudien, Dirk; et al. (Frontiers, 2018-01-01)
      uman cytomegalovirus (HCMV) latency is typically harmless but reactivation can be largely detrimental to immune compromised hosts. We modeled latency and reactivation using a traceable HCMV laboratory strain expressing the Gaussia luciferase reporter gene (HCMV/GLuc) in order to interrogate the viral modulatory effects on the human adaptive immunity. Humanized mice with long-term (more than 17 weeks) steady human T and B cell immune reconstitutions were infected with HCMV/GLuc and 7 weeks later were further treated with granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) to induce viral reactivations. Whole body bio-luminescence imaging analyses clearly differentiated mice with latent viral infections vs. reactivations. Foci of vigorous viral reactivations were detectable in liver, lymph nodes and salivary glands. The number of viral genome copies in various tissues increased upon reactivations and were detectable in sorted human CD14+, CD169+, and CD34+ cells. Compared with non-infected controls, mice after infections and reactivations showed higher thymopoiesis, systemic expansion of Th, CTL, Treg, and Tfh cells and functional antiviral T cell responses. Latent infections promoted vast development of memory CD4+ T cells while reactivations triggered a shift toward effector T cells expressing PD-1. Further, reactivations prompted a marked development of B cells, maturation of IgG+ plasma cells, and HCMV-specific antibody responses. Multivariate statistical methods were employed using T and B cell immune phenotypic profiles obtained with cells from several tissues of individual mice. The data was used to identify combinations of markers that could predict an HCMV infection vs. reactivation status. In spleen, but not in lymph nodes, higher frequencies of effector CD4+ T cells expressing PD-1 were among the factors most suited to distinguish HCMV reactivations from infections. These results suggest a shift from a T cell dominated immune response during latent infections toward an exhausted T cell phenotype and active humoral immune response upon reactivations. In sum, this novel in vivo humanized model combined with advanced analyses highlights a dynamic system clearly specifying the immunological spatial signatures of HCMV latency and reactivations. These signatures can be merged as predictive biomarker clusters that can be applied in the clinical translation of new therapies for the control of HCMV reactivation.
    • Solving the nonlinear boundary layer flow equations with pressure gradient and radiation

      Xenos, Michalis A.; Petropoulou, Eugenia N.; Siokis, Anastasios; Mahabaleshwar, U. S.; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-05-01)
      The physical problem under consideration is the boundary layer problem of an incompressible, laminar flow, taking place over a flat plate in the presence of a pressure gradient and radiation. For the mathematical formulation of the problem, the partial differential equations of continuity, energy, and momentum are taken into consideration with the boundary layer simplifications. Using the dimensionless Falkner–Skan transformation, a nonlinear, nonhomogeneous, coupled system of partial differential equations (PDEs) is obtained, which is solved via the homotopy analysis method. The obtained analytical solution describes radiation and pressure gradient effects on the boundary layer flow. These analytical results reveal that the adverse or favorable pressure gradient influences the dimensionless velocity and the dimensionless temperature of the boundary layer. An adverse pressure gradient causes significant changes on the dimensionless wall shear parameter and the dimensionless wall heat-transfer parameter. Thermal radiation influences the thermal boundary layer. The analytical results are in very good agreement with the corresponding numerical ones obtained using a modification of the Keller’s-box method.
    • A Spatial Model of Insulin-Granule Dynamics in Pancreatic β-Cells.

      Dehghany, Jaber; Hoboth, Peter; Ivanova, Anna; Mziaut, Hassan; Müller, Andreas; Kalaidzidis, Yannis; Solimena, Michele; Müller, A; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-08)
      Insulin secretion from pancreatic β-cells in response to sudden glucose stimulation is biphasic. Prolonged secretion in vivo requires synthesis, delivery to the plasma membrane (PM) and exocytosis of insulin secretory granules (SGs). Here, we provide the first agent-based space-resolved model for SG dynamics in pancreatic β-cells. Using recent experimental data, we consider a single β-cell with identical SGs moving on a phenomenologically represented cytoskeleton network. A single exocytotic machinery mediates SG exocytosis on the PM. This novel model reproduces the measured spatial organization of SGs and insulin secretion patterns under different stimulation protocols. It proposes that the insulin potentiation effect and the rising second-phase secretion are mainly due to the increasing number of docking sites on the PM. Furthermore, it shows that 6 min after glucose stimulation, the 'newcomer' SGs are recruited from a region within less than 600 nm from the PM.
    • Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Hypoxia during Radiotherapy.

      Kempf, Harald; Bleicher, Marcus; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
      Tumour hypoxia plays a pivotal role in cancer therapy for most therapeutic approaches from radiotherapy to immunotherapy. The detailed and accurate knowledge of the oxygen distribution in a tumour is necessary in order to determine the right treatment strategy. Still, due to the limited spatial and temporal resolution of imaging methods as well as lacking fundamental understanding of internal oxygenation dynamics in tumours, the precise oxygen distribution map is rarely available for treatment planing. We employ an agent-based in silico tumour spheroid model in order to study the complex, localized and fast oxygen dynamics in tumour micro-regions which are induced by radiotherapy. A lattice-free, 3D, agent-based approach for cell representation is coupled with a high-resolution diffusion solver that includes a tissue density-dependent diffusion coefficient. This allows us to assess the space- and time-resolved reoxygenation response of a small subvolume of tumour tissue in response to radiotherapy. In response to irradiation the tumour nodule exhibits characteristic reoxygenation and re-depletion dynamics which we resolve with high spatio-temporal resolution. The reoxygenation follows specific timings, which should be respected in treatment in order to maximise the use of the oxygen enhancement effects. Oxygen dynamics within the tumour create windows of opportunity for the use of adjuvant chemotherapeutica and hypoxia-activated drugs. Overall, we show that by using modelling it is possible to follow the oxygenation dynamics beyond common resolution limits and predict beneficial strategies for therapy and in vitro verification. Models of cell cycle and oxygen dynamics in tumours should in the future be combined with imaging techniques, to allow for a systematic experimental study of possible improved schedules and to ultimately extend the reach of oxygenation monitoring available in clinical treatment.
    • Staphylococcus aureus Alpha-Toxin Limits Type 1 While Fostering Type 3 Immune Responses.

      Bonifacius, Agnes; Goldmann, Oliver; Floess, Stefan; Holtfreter, Silva; Robert, Philippe A; Nordengrün, Maria; Kruse, Friederike; Lochner, Matthias; Falk, Christine S; Schmitz, Ingo; et al. (Frontiers, 2020-08-07)
      Staphylococcus aureus can cause life-threatening diseases, and hospital- as well as community-associated antibiotic-resistant strains are an emerging global public health problem. Therefore, prophylactic vaccines or immune-based therapies are considered as alternative treatment opportunities. To develop such novel treatment approaches, a better understanding of the bacterial virulence and immune evasion mechanisms and their potential effects on immune-based therapies is essential. One important staphylococcal virulence factor is alpha-toxin, which is able to disrupt the epithelial barrier in order to establish infection. In addition, alpha-toxin has been reported to modulate other cell types including immune cells. Since CD4+ T cell-mediated immunity is required for protection against S. aureus infection, we were interested in the ability of alpha-toxin to directly modulate CD4+ T cells. To address this, murine naïve CD4+ T cells were differentiated in vitro into effector T cell subsets in the presence of alpha-toxin. Interestingly, alpha-toxin induced death of Th1-polarized cells, while cells polarized under Th17 conditions showed a high resistance toward increasing concentrations of this toxin. These effects could neither be explained by differential expression of the cellular alpha-toxin receptor ADAM10 nor by differential activation of caspases, but might result from an increased susceptibility of Th1 cells toward Ca2+-mediated activation-induced cell death. In accordance with the in vitro findings, an alpha-toxin-dependent decrease of Th1 and concomitant increase of Th17 cells was observed in vivo during S. aureus bacteremia. Interestingly, corresponding subsets of innate lymphoid cells and γδ T cells were similarly affected, suggesting a more general effect of alpha-toxin on the modulation of type 1 and type 3 immune responses. In conclusion, we have identified a novel alpha-toxin-dependent immunomodulatory strategy of S. aureus, which can directly act on CD4+ T cells and might be exploited for the development of novel immune-based therapeutic approaches to treat infections with antibiotic-resistant S. aureus strains.