© 2016 Cardona and Prats. Infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) can induce two kinds of lesions, namely proliferative and exudative. The former are based on the presence of macrophages with controlled induction of intragranulomatous necrosis, and are even able to stop its physical progression, thus avoiding the induction of active tuberculosis (TB). In contrast, the most significant characteristic of exudative lesions is their massive infiltration with polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs), which favor enlargement of the lesions and extracellular growth of the bacilli. We have built an individual-based model (IBM) (known as "TBPATCH") using the NetLogo interface to better understand the progression from Mtb infection to TB. We have tested four main factors previously identified as being able to favor the infiltration of Mtb-infected lesions with PMNs, namely the tolerability of infected macrophages to the bacillary load; the capacity to modulate the Th17 response; the breathing amplitude (BAM) (large or small in the lower and upper lobes respectively), which influences bacillary drainage at the alveoli; and the encapsulation of Mtb-infected lesions by the interlobular septae that structure the pulmonary parenchyma into secondary lobes. Overall, although all the factors analyzed play some role, the small BAM is the major factor determining whether Mtb-infected lesions become exudative, and thus induce TB, thereby helping to understand why this usually takes place in the upper lobes. This information will be very useful for the design of future prophylactic and therapeutic approaches against TB.
- Alveolar macrophages tolerability
- Bacillary drainage
- Breathing amplitude
- Individual-Based Model
- Polymorphonuclear neutrophils