Germinal centres seen through the mathematical eye: B-cell models on the catwalk

Trends Immunol. 2009 Apr;30(4):157-64. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Mar 11.


Germinal centres are receiving renewed attention following recent intravital multi-photon imaging studies. These data have shed new light on longstanding questions about the spatial organisation of germinal centres, B-cell migration, selection and differentiation. Mathematical models have proven invaluable in the analysis of intravital motility data, and have predicted novel B-cell selection mechanisms that are now supported by experimental findings. We argue that mathematical modelling adds a different vantage point to experimental data and provides a quantitative and systematic analysis of hypotheses and theories in immunology. Furthermore, the well-characterised nature of the germinal centre provides an excellent proving ground for mathematical modelling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Affinity
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Epitopes
  • Germinal Center / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Immune System / embryology
  • Immune System / growth & development
  • Immune System / immunology*
  • Models, Immunological*
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / physiology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Epitopes
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell