The Value of Inflammatory Signals in Adaptive Immune Responses

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Cells of the immune system search among billions of healthy cells to find and neutralize a small number of infected cells before pathogens replicate to sufficient numbers to cause disease or death. The immune system uses information signals to accomplish this search quickly. Ordinary differential equations and spatially explicit agent-based models are used to quantify how capillary inflammation decreases the time it takes for cytotoxic T lymphocytes to find and kill infected cells. We find that the inflammation signal localized in a small region of infected tissue dramatically reduces search times, suggesting that these signals play an important role in the immune response, especially in larger animals.