Chapter

New Challenges for Cancer Systems Biomedicine

Part of the series SIMAI Springer Series pp 191-204

Cell-Cell Interactions in Solid Tumors — the Role of Cancer Stem Cells

  • Xuefeng GaoAffiliated withCenter of Cancer Systems Biology, Tufts University School of Medicine, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center
  • , J. Tyson McDonaldAffiliated withCenter of Cancer Systems Biology, Tufts University School of Medicine, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center
  • , Lynn HlatkyAffiliated withCenter of Cancer Systems Biology, Tufts University School of Medicine, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center
  • , Heiko EnderlingAffiliated withCenter of Cancer Systems Biology, Tufts University School of Medicine, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center Email author 

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Abstract

It is increasingly argued that solid tumors follow a cellular hierarchy comparable to normal tissues, with so-called cancer stem cells on top of the hierarchy. In this model, cancer stem cells have the unique capability to initiate and propagate solid tumors. Non-stem cancer cells will form the bulk of the tumor population, but are by themselves incapable of giving rise to a continuously growing tumor. The two distinct phenotypes interact with one another and compete for common resources such as oxygen, nutrients, or available space. Single cell kinetics are parameterized with in vitro data and the interplay between cancer stem cells and their non-stem cancer cell counterpart is studied using two different modeling approaches: a cellular automaton model and a cellular Potts model. Simulations of tumor growth with both techniques reveal that cancer stem cell-driven solid tumors grow as conglomerates of self-metastases, suggesting a robust biological phenomenon. The growth rate of the tumor is dependent on the complex interplay of the underlying model parameters.