Trail networks formed by populations of immune cells

Taeseok Daniel Yang, Tae Goo Kwon, Jin Sung Park, Kyoung J. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Populations of biological cells that communicate with each other can organize themselves to generate large-scale patterns. Examples can be found in diverse systems, ranging from developing embryos, cardiac tissues, chemotaxing ameba and swirling bacteria. The similarity, often shared by the patterns, suggests the existence of some general governing principle. On the other hand, rich diversity and system-specific properties are exhibited, depending on the type of involved cells and the nature of their interactions. The study on the similarity and the diversity constitutes a rapidly growing field of research. Here, we introduce a new class of self-organized patterns of cell populations that we term as 'cellular trail networks'. They were observed with populations of rat microglia, the immune cells of the brain and the experimental evidence suggested that haptotaxis is the key element responsible for them. The essential features of the observed patterns are well captured by the mathematical model cells that actively crawl and interact with each other through a decomposing but non-diffusing chemical attractant laid down by the cells. Our finding suggests an unusual mechanism of socially cooperative long-range signaling for the crawling immune cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number023017
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Feb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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