Neutrophil infiltration into tuberculous granulomas is often associated with higher bacteria loads and severe disease but the basis for this relationship is not well understood. To better elucidate the connection between neutrophils and pathology in primate systems, we paired data from experimental studies with our next generation computational model GranSim to identify neutrophil-related factors, including neutrophil recruitment, lifespan, and intracellular bacteria numbers, that drive granuloma-level outcomes. We predict mechanisms underlying spatial organization of neutrophils within granulomas and identify how neutrophils contribute to granuloma dissemination. We also performed virtual deletion and depletion of neutrophils within granulomas and found that neutrophils play a nuanced role in determining granuloma outcome, promoting uncontrolled bacterial growth in some and working to contain bacterial growth in others. Here, we present three key results: We show that neutrophils can facilitate local dissemination of granulomas and thereby enable the spread of infection. We suggest that neutrophils influence CFU burden during both innate and adaptive immune responses, implying that they may be targets for therapeutic interventions during later stages of infection. Further, through the use of uncertainty and sensitivity analyses, we predict which neutrophil processes drive granuloma severity and structure.
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Hult, C., Mattila, J. T., Gideon, H. P., Linderman, J. J., & Kirschner, D. E. (2021). Neutrophil Dynamics Affect Mycobacterium tuberculosis Granuloma Outcomes and Dissemination. Frontiers in immunology, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.712457