From passive diffusion to active cellular migration in mathematical models of tumour invasion
Mathematical models of tumour invasion appear as interesting tools for connecting the information extracted from medical imaging techniques and the large amount of data collected at the cellular and molecular levels. Most of the recent studies have used stochastic models of cell translocation for the comparison of computer simulations with histological solid tumour sections in order to discriminate and characterise expansive growth and active cell movements during host tissue invasion. This paper describes how a deterministic approach based on reaction-diffusion models and their generalisation in the mechano-chemical framework developed in the study of biological morphogenesis can be an alternative for analysing tumour morphological patterns. We support these considerations by reviewing two studies. In the first example, successful comparison of simulated brain tumour growth with a time sequence of computerised tomography (CT) scans leads to a quantification of the clinical parameters describing the invasion process and the therapy. The second example considers minimal hypotheses relating cell motility and cell traction forces. Using this model, we can simulate the bifurcation from an homogeneous distribution of cells at the tumour surface toward a nonhomogeneous density pattern which could characterise a pre-invasive stage at the tumour-host tissue interface.
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