The complex biology of Gram-negative bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is central to the acute inflammatory response in sepsis and related diseases. Repeated treatment with LPS can lead to desensitization or enhancement of subsequent responses both in vitro and in vivo (a phenomenon known as preconditioning). Previous computational studies have demonstrated a role for anti-inflammatory influences in this process (J. Day, J. Rubin, Y. Vodovotz, C.C. Chow, A. Reynolds, G. Clermont, A reduced mathematical model of the acute inflammatory response: II. Capturing scenarios of repeated endotoxin administration. J. Theor. Biol. 242 (2006) 237). Since LPS signals via Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), we created a simple mathematical model in order to address the role of this receptor in both the normal and preconditioned response to LPS. We created a non-linear system of ordinary differential equations, consisting of free LPS, free TLR4, bound complex LPS-TLR4, and an intracellular signaling cascade (lumped into a single variable). We simulate the effects of preconditioning by small and large repeated doses of LPS on the system, varying the timing of the doses as well as the rate of expression of TLR4. Our simulations suggest that a simplified model of LPS/TLR4 signaling can account for complex preconditioning phenomena without invoking a specific signaling inhibition mechanism, but rather based on the dynamics of the signaling response itself, as well as the timing and magnitude of the LPS stimuli.
- Mathematical model