Modeling of an immune response: Queuing network analysis of the impact of zinc and cadmium on macrophage activation

Marissa Nitz, Deandra Smith, Beata Wysocki, Daren Knoell, Tadeusz Wysocki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is characterized by progressive, irreversible airflow obstruction resulting from an abnormal inflammatory response to noxious gases and particles. Alveolar macrophages rely on the transcription factors, nuclear factor κB and mitogen-activated protein kinase, among others, to facilitate the production of inflammatory mediators designed to help rid the lung of foreign pathogens and noxious stimuli. Building a kinetic model using queuing networks, provides a quantitative approach incorporating an initial number of individual molecules along with rates of the reactions in any given pathway. Accordingly, this model has been shown useful to model cell behavior including signal transduction, transcription, and metabolic pathways. The aim of this study was to determine whether a queuing theory model that involves lipopolysaccharide-mediated macrophage activation in tandem with changes in intracellular Cd and zinc (Zn) content or a lack thereof, would be useful to predict their impact on immune activation. We then validate our model with biologic cytokine output from human macrophages relative to the timing of innate immune activation. We believe that our results further prove the validity of the queuing theory approach to model intracellular molecular signaling and postulate that it can be useful to predict additional cell signaling pathways and the corresponding biological outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-422
Number of pages11
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • COPD
  • computational modeling
  • immune response
  • macrophage
  • queuing theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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