Mathematical modeling finds disparate interferon production rates drive strain-specific immunodynamics during deadly influenza infection

Authors: Ackerman EE, Weaver JJA, Shoemaker JE


The timing and magnitude of the immune response (i.e., the immunodynamics) associated with the early innate immune response to viral infection display distinct trends across influenza A virus subtypes in vivo. Evidence shows that the timing of the type-I interferon response and the overall magnitude of immune cell infiltration are both correlated with more severe outcomes. However, the mechanisms driving the distinct immunodynamics between infections of different virus strains (strain-specific immunodynamics) remain unclear. Here, computational modeling and strain-specific immunologic data are used to identify the immune interactions that differ in mice infected with low-pathogenic H1N1 or high-pathogenic H5N1 influenza viruses. Computational exploration of free parameters between strains suggests that the production rate of interferon is the major driver of strain-specific immune responses observed in vivo, and points towards the relationship between the viral load and lung epithelial interferon production as the main source of variance between infection outcomes. A greater understanding of the contributors to strain-specific immunodynamics can be utilized in future efforts aimed at treatment development to improve clinical outcomes of high-pathogenic viral strains.

Source: Viruses, 2022; 14(5):906