Juxtaposition of System Dynamics and Agent-based Simulation for a Case Study in Immunosenescence

by   Grazziela P. Figueredo, et al.

Advances in healthcare and in the quality of life significantly increase human life expectancy. With the ageing of populations, new un-faced challenges are brought to science. The human body is naturally selected to be well-functioning until the age of reproduction to keep the species alive. However, as the lifespan extends, unseen problems due to the body deterioration emerge. There are several age-related diseases with no appropriate treatment; therefore, the complex ageing phenomena needs further understanding. Immunosenescence, the ageing of the immune system, is highly correlated to the negative effects of ageing, such as the increase of auto-inflammatory diseases and decrease in responsiveness to new diseases. Besides clinical and mathematical tools, we believe there is opportunity to further exploit simulation tools to understand immunosenescence. Compared to real-world experimentation, benefits include time and cost effectiveness due to the laborious, resource-intensiveness of the biological environment and the possibility of conducting experiments without ethic restrictions. Contrasted with mathematical models, simulation modelling is more suitable for representing complex systems and emergence. In addition, there is the belief that simulation models are easier to communicate in interdisciplinary contexts. Our work investigates the usefulness of simulations to understand immunosenescence by employing two different simulation methods, agent-based and system dynamics simulation, to a case study of immune cells depletion with age.


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