Modeling inoculum dose dependent patterns of acute virus infections.


Inoculum dose, i.e. the number of pathogens at the beginning of an infection, often affects key aspects of pathogen and immune response dynamics. These in turn determine clinically relevant outcomes, such as morbidity and mortality. Despite the general recognition that inoculum dose is an important component of infection outcomes, we currently do not understand its impact in much detail. This study is intended to start filling this knowledge gap by analyzing inoculum dependent patterns of viral load dynamics in acute infections. Using experimental data for adenovirus and infectious bronchitis virus infections as examples, we demonstrate inoculum dose dependent patterns of virus dynamics. We analyze the data with the help of mathematical models to investigate what mechanisms can reproduce the patterns observed in experimental data. We find that models including components of both the innate and adaptive immune response are needed to reproduce the patterns found in the data. We further analyze which types of innate or adaptive immune response models agree with observed data. One interesting finding is that only models for the adaptive immune response that contain growth terms partially independent of viral load can properly reproduce observed patterns. This agrees with the idea that an antigen-independent, programmed response is part of the adaptive response. Our analysis provides useful insights into the types of model structures that are required to properly reproduce observed virus dynamics for varying inoculum doses. We suggest that such models should be taken as basis for future models of acute viral infections.

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