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Institut Sophia Agrobiotech

UMR INRA - Univ. Nice Sophia Antipolis - Cnrs

BMC Systems Biology

01 February 2019

BMC Systems Biology
© 2019 BioMed Central Ltd unless otherwise stated. Part of Springer Nature.
How to prevent viremia rebound? Evidence from a PRRSv data-supported model of immune response



Understanding what determines the between-host variability in infection dynamics is a key issue to better control the infection spread. In particular, pathogen clearance is desirable over rebounds for the health of the infected individual and its contact group. In this context, the Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome virus (PRRSv) is of particular interest. Numerous studies have shown that pigs similarly infected with this highly ubiquitous virus elicit diverse response profiles. Whilst some manage to clear the virus within a few weeks, others experience prolonged infection with a rebound. Despite much speculation, the underlying mechanisms responsible for this undesirable rebound phenomenon remain unclear.


We aimed at identifying immune mechanisms that can reproduce and explain the rebound patterns observed in PRRSv infection using a mathematical modelling approach of the within-host dynamics. As diverse mechanisms were found to influence PRRSv infection, we established a model that details the major mechanisms and their regulations at the between-cell scale. We developed an ABC-like optimisation method to fit our model to an extensive set of experimental data, consisting of non-rebounder and rebounder viremia profiles. We compared, between both profiles, the estimated parameter values, the resulting immune dynamics and the efficacies of the underlying immune mechanisms. Exploring the influence of these mechanisms, we showed that rebound was promoted by high apoptosis, high cell infection and low cytolysis by Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes, while increasing neutralisation was very efficient to prevent rebounds.


Our paper provides an original model of the immune response and an appropriate systematic fitting method, whose interest extends beyond PRRS infection. It gives the first mechanistic explanation for emergence of rebounds during PRRSv infection. Moreover, results suggest that vaccines or genetic selection promoting strong neutralising and cytolytic responses, ideally associated with low apoptotic activity and cell permissiveness, would prevent rebound.


  • Immunological model
  • ABC-like optimisation method
  • Rebounder viremia profile
  • PRRSv

Go, N., Touzeau, S., Islam, Z., Belloc, C., and Doeschl-Wilson, A. (2019). How to prevent viremia rebound? Evidence from a PRRSv data-supported model of immune response. BMC Systems Biology 13, 15. DOI: 10.1186/s12918-018-0666-7

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