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J R Soc Interface. 2012 Dec 7;9(77):3229-39. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2012.0542. Epub 2012 Sep 5.

Repelled from the wound, or randomly dispersed? Reverse migration behaviour of neutrophils characterized by dynamic modelling.

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Complex Systems and Signal Processing Group, Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.


Following neutralization of infectious threats, neutrophils must be removed from inflammatory sites for normal tissue function to be restored. Recently, a new paradigm has emerged, in which viable neutrophils migrate away from inflammatory sites by a process best described as reverse migration. It has generally been assumed that this process is the mirror image of chemotaxis, where neutrophils are drawn into the areas of infection or tissue damage by gradients of chemotactic cues. Indeed, efforts are underway to identify cues that drive neutrophils away by the reverse process, fugetaxis. By using photoconvertible pigments expressed in neutrophils in transparent zebrafish larvae, we were able to image the position of each neutrophil during inflammation resolution in vivo. These neutrophil coordinates were analysed within a dynamic modelling framework, using different forms of the drift-diffusion equation with model selection and parameter estimation based on approximate Bayesian computation. This analysis revealed the experimental data were best fitted by a model incorporating a diffusion term but no drift term-where the presence of drift would indicate fugetaxis. This result, for the first time, provides rigorous data-driven evidence that reverse migration of neutrophils in vivo is not a form of fugetaxis, but rather a stochastic redistribution.

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