Estimating Lymphocyte Division and Death Rates from CFSE Data Academic Article uri icon


  • The division tracking dye, carboxyfluorescin diacetate succinimidyl ester (CFSE) is currently the most informative labeling technique for characterizing the division history of cells in the immune system. Gett and Hodgkin [Nat. Immunol. 1:239-244, 2000] have pioneered the quantitative analysis of CFSE data. We confirm and extend their data analysis approach using simple mathematical models. We employ the extended Gett and Hodgkin [Nat. Immunol. 1:239-244, 2000] method to estimate the time to first division, the fraction of cells recruited into division, the cell cycle time, and the average death rate from CFSE data on T cells stimulated under different concentrations of IL-2. The same data is also fitted with a simple mathematical model that we derived by reformulating the numerical model of Deenick et al. [J. Immunol. 170:4963-4972, 2003]. By a non-linear fitting procedure we estimate parameter values and confidence intervals to identify the parameters that are influenced by the IL-2 concentration. We obtain a significantly better fit to the data when we assume that the T cell death rate depends on the number of divisions cells have completed. We provide an outlook on future work that involves extending the Deenick et al. [J. Immunol. 170:4963-4972, 2003] model into the classical smith-martin model, and into a model with arbitrary probability distributions for death and division through subsequent divisions.


publication date

  • July 2006