The effect of correlations on the population dynamics of lymphocytes Academic Article uri icon


  • Recent studies of the population dynamics of a system of lymphocytes in an in vitro immune response have reported strong correlations in cell division times, both between parents and their progeny, and between those of sibling cells. The data also show a high level of correlation in the ultimate number of divisions achieved by cells within the same clone. Such correlations are often ignored in mathematical models of cell dynamics as they violate a standard assumption in the theory of branching processes, that of the statistical independence of cells. In this article we present a model in which these correlations can be incorporated, and have used this model to study the effect of these correlations on the population dynamics of a system of cells. We found that correlation in the division times between parents and their progeny can alter the mean population size of clones within the system, while all of the correlations can affect the variance in the sizes of different clones. The model was then applied to experimental data obtained from time-lapse video microscopy of a system of CpG stimulated B lymphocytes and it was found that inclusion of the correct correlation structure is necessary to accurately reproduce the observed population dynamics. We conclude that correlations in the dynamics of cells within an ensemble will affect the population dynamics of the system, and the effects will become more pronounced as the number of divisions increases.

publication date

  • May 2010