Computational modeling of heterogeneity and function of CD4+ T cells

Front Cell Dev Biol. 2014 Jul 29;2:31. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2014.00031. eCollection 2014.


The immune system is composed of many different cell types and hundreds of intersecting molecular pathways and signals. This large biological complexity requires coordination between distinct pro-inflammatory and regulatory cell subsets to respond to infection while maintaining tissue homeostasis. CD4+ T cells play a central role in orchestrating immune responses and in maintaining a balance between pro- and anti- inflammatory responses. This tight balance between regulatory and effector reactions depends on the ability of CD4+ T cells to modulate distinct pathways within large molecular networks, since dysregulated CD4+ T cell responses may result in chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The CD4+ T cell differentiation process comprises an intricate interplay between cytokines, their receptors, adaptor molecules, signaling cascades and transcription factors that help delineate cell fate and function. Computational modeling can help to describe, simulate, analyze, and predict some of the behaviors in this complicated differentiation network. This review provides a comprehensive overview of existing computational immunology methods as well as novel strategies used to model immune responses with a particular focus on CD4+ T cell differentiation.

Keywords: CD4+ T cell differentiation; CD4+ T cell dogma; computational immunology; computational modeling; immunoinformatics.

Publication types

  • Review