Human T cells in silico: Modelling their electrophysiological behaviour in health and disease

J Theor Biol. 2016 Sep 7;404:236-250. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2016.06.001. Epub 2016 Jun 8.


Although various types of ion channels are known to have an impact on human T cell effector functions, their exact mechanisms of influence are still poorly understood. The patch clamp technique is a well-established method for the investigation of ion channels in neurons and T cells. However, small cell sizes and limited selectivity of pharmacological blockers restrict the value of this experimental approach. Building a realistic T cell computer model therefore can help to overcome these kinds of limitations as well as reduce the overall experimental effort. The computer model introduced here was fed off ion channel parameters from literature and new experimental data. It is capable of simulating the electrophysiological behaviour of resting and activated human CD4(+) T cells under basal conditions and during extracellular acidification. The latter allows for the very first time to assess the electrophysiological consequences of tissue acidosis accompanying most forms of inflammation.

Keywords: Immune system; Inflammation; Ion channels; Patch clamp recordings; T cell simulation; Tissue acidosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cations
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Disease*
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena*
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Ion Channel Gating
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Models, Biological
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology*


  • Cations
  • Ion Channels
  • Potassium
  • Calcium