Characterizing T cell movement within lymph nodes in the absence of antigen

J Immunol. 2007 May 1;178(9):5505-12. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.178.9.5505.


The recent application of two-photon microscopy to the visualization of T cell movement has presented trajectories of individual T cells within lymphoid organs both in the presence and in the absence of Ag-loaded dendritic cells. Remarkably, even though T cells largely move along conduits of the fibroblastic reticular cell network, they appear to execute random walks in lymphoid organs rather than chemotaxis. In this study, we analyze experimental trajectories of T cells using computer simulations of idealized random walks. Comparisons of simulations with experimental data provide estimates of key parameters that characterize T cell motion in vivo. For example, we find that the distance moved before turning is about twice the distance between intersections in the fibroblastic reticular cell network, suggesting that at an intersection a T cell will turn onto a new fiber approximately 50% of the time. Although the calibrated model appears to offer an accurate representation of T cell movement, it has also uncovered inconsistencies across different experimental data sets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens / immunology
  • Cell Movement*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Antigens