Multiscale multicellular modeling of tissue function and disease using CompuCell3D

Speaker: James Glazier

Date: Wed, May 27, 2020

Location: Zoom, PIMS, University of British Columbia

Conference: Mathematical Biology Seminar

Subject: Mathematics, Mathematical Biology

Class: Scientific


Multiscale multicellular models combine representations of subcellular biological networks, cell behaviors, tissue level effects and whole body effects to describe tissue outcomes during development, homeostasis and disease. I will briefly introduce these simulation methodologies, the CompuCell3D simulation environment and their applications, then focus on a multiscale simulation of an acute primary infection of an epithelial tissue infected by a virus like SARS-CoV-2, a simplified cellular immune response and viral and immune-induced tissue damage. The model exhibits four basic parameter regimes: where the immune response fails to contain or significantly slow the spread of viral infection, where it significantly slows but fails to stop the spread of infection, where it eliminates all infected epithelial cells, but reinfection occurs from residual extracellular virus and where it clears the both infected cells and extracellular virus, leaving a substantial fraction of epithelial cells uninfected. Even this simplified model can illustrate the effects of a number of drug therapy concepts. Inhibition of viral internalization and faster immune-cell recruitment promote containment of infection. Fast viral internalization and slower immune response lead to uncontrolled spread of infection. Existing antivirals, despite blocking viral replication, show reduced clinical benefit when given later during the course of infection. Simulation of a drug which reduces the replication rate of viral RNA, shows that a low dosage that provides only a relatively limited reduction of viral RNA replication greatly decreases the total tissue damage and extracellular virus when given near the beginning of infection. However, even a high dosage that greatly reduces the rate of RNA replication rapidly loses efficacy when given later after infection. Many combinations of dosage and treatment time lead to distinct stochastic outcomes, with some replicas showing clearance or control of the virus (treatment success), while others show rapid infection of all epithelial cells (treatment failure). This switch between a regime of frequent treatment success and frequent failure occurs is quite abrupt as the time of treatment increases. The model is open-source and modular, allowing rapid development and extension of its components by groups working in parallel.