Energy cost of infection burden: an approach to understanding the dynamics of host-pathogen interactions

J Theor Biol. 2006 Jul 7;241(1):1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2005.11.004. Epub 2005 Dec 27.


A mathematical model of long-term immune defense against infection was used to estimate the energy involved in the principal processes of immune resistance during periods of health and infection. From these values, an optimal level of energy was determined for immune response depending on infection burden. The present findings suggest that weak but prevalent pathogens lead to latent or chronic infection, whereas more virulent but less prevalent pathogens result in acute infection. This energy-based approach offers insight into the mechanisms of immune system adaptation leading to the development of chronic infectious diseases and immune deficiencies.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Communicable Diseases / immunology*
  • Communicable Diseases / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Models, Immunological*
  • Pneumonia / immunology
  • Pneumonia / metabolism