Stochastic models for virus and immune system dynamics

Yuan Yuan, Linda J.S. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


New stochastic models are developed for the dynamics of a viral infection and an immune response during the early stages of infection. The stochastic models are derived based on the dynamics of deterministic models. The simplest deterministic model is a well-known system of ordinary differential equations which consists of three populations: uninfected cells, actively infected cells, and virus particles. This basic model is extended to include some factors of the immune response related to Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 (HIV-1) infection. For the deterministic models, the basic reproduction number, R0, is calculated and it is shown that if R0<1, the disease-free equilibrium is locally asymptotically stable and is globally asymptotically stable in some special cases. The new stochastic models are systems of stochastic differential equations (SDEs) and continuous-time Markov chain (CTMC) models that account for the variability in cellular reproduction and death, the infection process, the immune system activation, and viral reproduction. Two viral release strategies are considered: budding and bursting. The CTMC model is used to estimate the probability of virus extinction during the early stages of infection. Numerical simulations are carried out using parameter values applicable to HIV-1 dynamics. The stochastic models provide new insights, distinct from the basic deterministic models. For the case R0>1, the deterministic models predict the viral infection persists in the host. But for the stochastic models, there is a positive probability of viral extinction. It is shown that the probability of a successful invasion depends on the initial viral dose, whether the immune system is activated, and whether the release strategy is bursting or budding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-94
Number of pages11
JournalMathematical Biosciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Branching process
  • HIV-1 dynamics
  • Immune response
  • Stochastic differential equations


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