Recent advances in Immunology highlighted the importance of local properties on the overall progression of HIV infection. In particular, the gastrointestinal tract is seen as a key area during early infection, and the massive cell depletion associated with it may influence subsequent disease progression. This motivated the development of a large-scale agent-based model.
Lymph nodes are explicitly implemented, and considerations on parallel computing permit large simulations and the inclusion of local features. The results obtained show that GI tract inclusion in the model leads to an accelerated disease progression, during both the early stages and the long-term evolution, compared to a theoretical, uniform model.
These results confirm the potential of treatment policies currently under investigation, which focus on this region. They also highlight the potential of this modelling framework, incorporating both agent-based and network-based components, in the context of complex systems where scaling-up alone does not result in models providing additional insights.|