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Multispecies model of cell lineages and feedback control in solid tumors.

  • Author(s): Youssefpour, H;
  • Li, X;
  • Lander, AD;
  • Lowengrub, JS
  • et al.

We develop a multispecies continuum model to simulate the spatiotemporal dynamics of cell lineages in solid tumors. The model accounts for protein signaling factors produced by cells in lineages, and nutrients supplied by the microenvironment. Together, these regulate the rates of proliferation, self-renewal and differentiation of cells within the lineages, and control cell population sizes and distributions. Terminally differentiated cells release proteins (e.g., from the TGFβ superfamily) that feedback upon less differentiated cells in the lineage both to promote differentiation and decrease rates of proliferation (and self-renewal). Stem cells release a short-range factor that promotes self-renewal (e.g., representative of Wnt signaling factors), as well as a long-range inhibitor of this factor (e.g., representative of Wnt inhibitors such as Dkk and SFRPs). We find that the progression of the tumors and their response to treatment is controlled by the spatiotemporal dynamics of the signaling processes. The model predicts the development of spatiotemporal heterogeneous distributions of the feedback factors (Wnt, Dkk and TGFβ) and tumor cell populations with clusters of stem cells appearing at the tumor boundary, consistent with recent experiments. The nonlinear coupling between the heterogeneous expressions of growth factors and the heterogeneous distributions of cell populations at different lineage stages tends to create asymmetry in tumor shape that may sufficiently alter otherwise homeostatic feedback so as to favor escape from growth control. This occurs in a setting of invasive fingering, and enhanced aggressiveness after standard therapeutic interventions. We find, however, that combination therapy involving differentiation promoters and radiotherapy is very effective in eradicating such a tumor.

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