On-lattice simulation of T cell motility, chemotaxis, and trafficking in the lymph node paracortex

PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e45258. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045258. Epub 2012 Sep 19.


Agent-based simulation is a powerful method for investigating the complex interplay of the processes occurring in a lymph node during an adaptive immune response. We have previously established an agent-based modeling framework for the interactions between T cells and dendritic cells within the paracortex of lymph nodes. This model simulates in three dimensions the "random-walk" T cell motility observed in vivo, so that cells interact in space and time as they process signals and commit to action such as proliferation. On-lattice treatment of cell motility allows large numbers of densely packed cells to be simulated, so that the low frequency of T cells capable of responding to a single antigen can be dealt with realistically. In this paper we build on this model by incorporating new numerical methods to address the crucial processes of T cell ingress and egress, and chemotaxis, within the lymph node. These methods enable simulation of the dramatic expansion and contraction of the T cell population in the lymph node paracortex during an immune response. They also provide a novel probabilistic method to simulate chemotaxis that will be generally useful in simulating other biological processes in which chemotaxis is an important feature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Animals
  • Antigens / immunology
  • Cell Communication / immunology
  • Chemotaxis / immunology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology*
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • Models, Immunological*
  • Rats
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Antigens

Grants and funding

This work was funded by the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.