Bulletin of Mathematical Biology

, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 231–257 | Cite as

The migration of cells in multicell tumor spheroids

  • G. J. Pettet
  • C. P. Please
  • M. J. Tindall
  • D. L. S. McElwain


A mathematical model is proposed to explain the observed internalization of microspheres and 3H-thymidine labelled cells in steady-state multicellular spheroids. The model uses the conventional ideas of nutrient diffusion and consumption by the cells. In addition, a very simple model of the progress of the cells through the cell cycle is considered. Cells are divided into two classes, those proliferating (being in G 1, S, G 2 or M phases) and those that are quiescent (being in G 0). Furthermore, the two categories are presumed to have different chemotactic responses to the nutrient gradient. The model accounts for the spatial and temporal variations in the cell categories together with mitosis, conversion between categories and cell death. Numerical solutions demonstrate that the model predicts the behavior similar to existing models but has some novel effects. It allows for spheroids to approach a steady-state size in a non-monotonic manner, it predicts self-sorting of the cell classes to produce a thin layer of rapidly proliferating cells near the outer surface and significant numbers of cells within the spheroid stalled in a proliferating state. The model predicts that overall tumor growth is not only determined by proliferation rates but also by the ability of cells to convert readily between the classes. Moreover, the steady-state structure of the spheroid indicates that if the outer layers are removed then the tumor grows quickly by recruiting cells stalled in a proliferating state. Questions are raised about the chemotactic response of cells in differing phases and to the dependency of cell cycle rates to nutrient levels.


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Copyright information

© Society for Mathematical Biology 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. J. Pettet
    • 1
  • C. P. Please
    • 2
  • M. J. Tindall
    • 2
  • D. L. S. McElwain
    • 1
  1. 1.CiSSaIM, School of Mathematical SciencesQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Mathematical StudiesThe University of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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