1887

Abstract

The population dynamics of pathogens within hosts result from interactions between host immune responses and mechanisms of the pathogen to evade or resist immune responses. Vertebrate hosts have evolved adaptive immune responses to eliminate the infection, while many pathogens evade immune clearance through altering surface antigens. Such interactions can result in a characteristic pattern of pathogen population dynamics within hosts consisting of population growth after infection, rapid population decline following specific immune responses, followed by persistence at low densities during a chronic infection stage. Despite the medical importance of chronic infections, little is known about the conditions of the interactions between variable antigens and the adaptive immune system that cause the characteristic pathogen population dynamics. Using the antigenic variation system of the Lyme disease pathogen, , as a model system, we investigated conditions of the interaction between the antigenic variation system and the adaptive immune response that can explain the within-host population dynamics of using mathematical modelling. This characteristic population dynamic pattern can be explained by models that assume a variable immune removal rate of antibody-bound . However, models with a constant immune removal rate could reproduce the rapid population decline of populations but not their long-term persistence within hosts using parameter values determined by fitting empirical data. The model predictions, along with the assumptions about the interactions between and the immune response, can be tested experimentally to estimate the likelihood that each mechanism affects population dynamics in real infections.

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2017-08-01
2020-01-19
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