Modelling the dynamics of tuberculosis lesions in a virtual lung: role of the bronchial tree in endogenous reinfection
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Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that still causes more than 1.5 million deaths annually. The World Health Organization estimates that around 30% of the world’s population is latently infected. However, the mechanisms responsible for 10% of this reserve (i.e., of the latently infected population) developing an active disease are not fully understood, yet. The dynamic hypothesis suggests that endogenous reinfection has an important role in maintaining latent infection. In order to examine this hypothesis for falsifiability, an agent-based model of growth, merging, and proliferation of TB lesions was implemented in a computational bronchial tree, built with an iterative algorithm for the generation of bronchial bifurcations and tubes applied inside a virtual 3D pulmonary surface. The computational model was fed and parameterized with computed tomography (CT) experimental data from 5 latently infected minipigs. First, we used CT images to reconstruct the virtual pulmonary surfaces where bronchial trees are built. Then, CT data about TB lesion’ size and location to each minipig were used in the parameterization process. The model’s outcome provides spatial and size distributions of TB lesions that successfully reproduced experimental data, thus reinforcing the role of the bronchial tree as the spatial structure triggering endogenous reinfection. A sensitivity analysis of the model shows that the final number of lesions is strongly related with the endogenous reinfection frequency and maximum growth rate of the lesions, while their mean diameter mainly depends on the spatial spreading of new lesions and the maximum radius. Finally, the model was used as an in silico experimental platform to explore the transition from latent infection to active disease, identifying two main triggering factors: a high inflammatory response and the combination of a moderate inflammatory response with a small breathing amplitude.
CitationCatalà, M. [et al.]. Modelling the dynamics of tuberculosis lesions in a virtual lung: role of the bronchial tree in endogenous reinfection. "PLoS Computational Biology", 20 Maig 2020, vol. 16, núm. 5.