• 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.
    • Statistical mechanics of cell decision-making: the cell migration force distribution

      Hatzikirou, Haralampos; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany.
    • A Stochastic Model for CD4+ T Cell Proliferation and Dissemination Network in Primary Immune Response.

      Boianelli, Alessandro; Pettini, Elena; Prota, Gennaro; Medaglini, Donata; Vicino, Antonio; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
      The study of the initial phase of the adaptive immune response after first antigen encounter provides essential information on the magnitude and quality of the immune response. This phase is characterized by proliferation and dissemination of T cells in the lymphoid organs. Modeling and identifying the key features of this phenomenon may provide a useful tool for the analysis and prediction of the effects of immunization. This knowledge can be effectively exploited in vaccinology, where it is of interest to evaluate and compare the responses to different vaccine formulations. The objective of this paper is to construct a stochastic model based on branching process theory, for the dissemination network of antigen-specific CD4+ T cells. The devised model is validated on in vivo animal experimental data. The model presented has been applied to the vaccine immunization context making references to simple proliferation laws that take into account division, death and quiescence, but it can also be applied to any context where it is of interest to study the dynamic evolution of a population.
    • Structural Heterogeneity of Mitochondria Induced by the Microtubule Cytoskeleton.

      Sukhorukov, Valerii M; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
      By events of fusion and fission mitochondria generate a partially interconnected, irregular network of poorly specified architecture. Here, its organization is examined theoretically by taking into account the physical association of mitochondria with microtubules. Parameters of the cytoskeleton mesh are derived from the mechanics of single fibers. The model of the mitochondrial reticulum is formulated in terms of a dynamic spatial graph. The graph dynamics is modulated by the density of microtubules and their crossings. The model reproduces the full spectrum of experimentally found mitochondrial configurations. In centrosome-organized cells, the chondriome is predicted to develop strong structural inhomogeneity between the cell center and the periphery. An integrated analysis of the cytoskeletal and the mitochondrial components reveals that the structure of the reticulum depends on the balance between anterograde and retrograde motility of mitochondria on microtubules, in addition to fission and fusion. We propose that it is the combination of the two processes that defines synergistically the mitochondrial structure, providing the cell with ample capabilities for its regulative adaptation.
    • Sub-optimal switching with dwell time constraints for control of viral mutation

      Hernandez-Vargas, Esteban A.; Colaneri, Patrizio; Middleton, Richard H.; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung-HZI, 39124 Braunschweig (2012-12-13)
    • Synchronous Germinal Center Onset Impacts the Efficiency of Antibody Responses.

      Arulraj, Theinmozhi; Binder, Sebastian C; Robert, Philippe A; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      The germinal center reaction is an important target for modulating antibody responses. Antibody production from germinal centers is regulated by a negative feedback mechanism termed antibody feedback. By imposing antibody feedback, germinal centers can interact and regulate the output of other germinal centers. Using an agent-based model of the germinal center reaction, we studied the impact of antibody feedback on kinetics and efficiency of a germinal center. Our simulations predict that high feedback of antibodies from germinal centers reduces the production of plasma cells and subsequently the efficiency of the germinal center reaction by promoting earlier termination. Affinity maturation is only weakly improved by increased antibody feedback and ultimately interrupted because of premature termination of the reaction. The model predicts that the asynchronous onset and changes in number of germinal centers could alter the efficiency of antibody response due to changes in feedback by soluble antibodies. Consequently, late initialized germinal centers have a compromised output due to higher antibody feedback from the germinal centers formed earlier. The results demonstrate potential effects of germinal center intercommunication and highlight the importance of understanding germinal center interactions for optimizing the antibody response, in particular, in the elderly and in the context of vaccination.
    • Therapeutic Potential of Bacteria against Solid Tumors.

      Hatzikirou, Haralampos; López Alfonso, Juan Carlos; Leschner, Sara; Weiss, Siegfried; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-04-01)
      Intentional bacterial infections can produce efficacious antitumor responses in mice, rats, dogs, and humans. However, low overall success rates and intense side effects prevent such approaches from being employed clinically. In this work, we titered bacteria and/or the proinflammatory cytokine TNFα in a set of established murine models of cancer. To interpret the experiments conducted, we considered and calibrated a tumor-effector cell recruitment model under the influence of functional tumor-associated vasculature. In this model, bacterial infections and TNFα enhanced immune activity and altered vascularization in the tumor bed. Information to predict bacterial therapy outcomes was provided by pretreatment tumor size and the underlying immune recruitment dynamics. Notably, increasing bacterial loads did not necessarily produce better long-term tumor control, suggesting that tumor sizes affected optimal bacterial loads. Short-term treatment responses were favored by high concentrations of effector cells postinjection, such as induced by higher bacterial loads, but in the longer term did not correlate with an effective restoration of immune surveillance. Overall, our findings suggested that a combination of intermediate bacterial loads with low levels TNFα administration could enable more favorable outcomes elicited by bacterial infections in tumor-bearing subjects. Cancer Res; 77(7); 1553-63. ©2017 AACR.
    • Visualizing antibody affinity maturation in germinal centers.

      Tas, Jeroen M J; Mesin, Luka; Pasqual, Giulia; Targ, Sasha; Jacobsen, Johanne T; Mano, Yasuko M; Chen, Casie S; Weill, Jean-Claude; Reynaud, Claude-Agnès; Browne, Edward P; et al. (2016-03-04)
      Antibodies somatically mutate to attain high affinity in germinal centers (GCs). There, competition between B cell clones and among somatic mutants of each clone drives an increase in average affinity across the population. The extent to which higher-affinity cells eliminating competitors restricts clonal diversity is unknown. By combining multiphoton microscopy and sequencing, we show that tens to hundreds of distinct B cell clones seed each GC and that GCs lose clonal diversity at widely disparate rates. Furthermore, efficient affinity maturation can occur in the absence of homogenizing selection, ensuring that many clones can mature in parallel within the same GC. Our findings have implications for development of vaccines in which antibodies with nonimmunodominant specificities must be elicited, as is the case for HIV-1 and influenza.
    • Why one-size-fits-all vaso-modulatory interventions fail to control glioma invasion: in silico insights.

      Alfonso, J C L; Köhn-Luque, A; Stylianopoulos, T; Feuerhake, F; Deutsch, A; Hatzikirou, H; Braunschweiger zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-11-23)
      Gliomas are highly invasive brain tumours characterised by poor prognosis and limited response to therapy. There is an ongoing debate on the therapeutic potential of vaso-modulatory interventions against glioma invasion. Prominent vasculature-targeting therapies involve tumour blood vessel deterioration and normalisation. The former aims at tumour infarction and nutrient deprivation induced by blood vessel occlusion/collapse. In contrast, the therapeutic intention of normalising the abnormal tumour vasculature is to improve the efficacy of conventional treatment modalities. Although these strategies have shown therapeutic potential, it remains unclear why they both often fail to control glioma growth. To shed some light on this issue, we propose a mathematical model based on the migration/proliferation dichotomy of glioma cells in order to investigate why vaso-modulatory interventions have shown limited success in terms of tumour clearance. We found the existence of a critical cell proliferation/diffusion ratio that separates glioma responses to vaso-modulatory interventions into two distinct regimes. While for tumours, belonging to one regime, vascular modulations reduce the front speed and increase the infiltration width, for those in the other regime, the invasion speed increases and infiltration width decreases. We discuss how these in silico findings can be used to guide individualised vaso-modulatory approaches to improve treatment success rates.
    • Windows of opportunity for Ebola virus infection treatment and vaccination.

      Nguyen, Van Kinh; Hernandez-Vargas, Esteban A; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-08-21)
      Ebola virus (EBOV) infection causes a high death toll, killing a high proportion of EBOV-infected patients within 7 days. Comprehensive data on EBOV infection are fragmented, hampering efforts in developing therapeutics and vaccines against EBOV. Under this circumstance, mathematical models become valuable resources to explore potential controlling strategies. In this paper, we employed experimental data of EBOV-infected nonhuman primates (NHPs) to construct a mathematical framework for determining windows of opportunity for treatment and vaccination. Considering a prophylactic vaccine based on recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus expressing the EBOV glycoprotein (rVSV-EBOV), vaccination could be protective if a subject is vaccinated during a period from one week to four months before infection. For the case of a therapeutic vaccine based on monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), a single dose might resolve the invasive EBOV replication even if it was administrated as late as four days after infection. Our mathematical models can be used as building blocks for evaluating therapeutic and vaccine modalities as well as for evaluating public health intervention strategies in outbreaks. Future laboratory experiments will help to validate and refine the estimates of the windows of opportunity proposed here.