Ben Nadler


2 Mathematical Modeling of Avascular Tumor Growth and Invasion

Authors: Ben Nadler, Mohsen Akbari, Meitham Amereh


Cancer has been recognized as one of the most challenging problems in biology and medicine. Aggressive tumors are a lethal type of cancers characterized by high genomic instability, rapid progression, invasiveness, and therapeutic resistance. Their behavior involves complicated molecular biology and consequential dynamics. Although tremendous effort has been devoted to developing therapeutic approaches, there is still a huge need for new insights into the dark aspects of tumors. As one of the key requirements in better understanding the complex behavior of tumors, mathematical modeling and continuum physics, in particular, play a pivotal role. Mathematical modeling can provide a quantitative prediction on biological processes and help interpret complicated physiological interactions in tumors microenvironment. The pathophysiology of aggressive tumors is strongly affected by the extracellular cues such as stresses produced by mechanical forces between the tumor and the host tissue. During the tumor progression, the growing mass displaces the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM), and due to the level of tissue stiffness, stress accumulates inside the tumor. The produced stress can influence the tumor by breaking adherent junctions. During this process, the tumor stops the rapid proliferation and begins to remodel its shape to preserve the homeostatic equilibrium state. To reach this, the tumor, in turn, upregulates epithelial to mesenchymal transit-inducing transcription factors (EMT-TFs). These EMT-TFs are involved in various signaling cascades, which are often associated with tumor invasiveness and malignancy. In this work, we modeled the tumor as a growing hyperplastic mass and investigated the effects of mechanical stress from surrounding ECM on tumor invasion. The invasion is modeled as volume-preserving inelastic evolution. In this framework, principal balance laws are considered for tumor mass, linear momentum, and diffusion of nutrients. Also, mechanical interactions between the tumor and ECM is modeled using Ciarlet constitutive strain energy function, and dissipation inequality is utilized to model the volumetric growth rate. System parameters, such as rate of nutrient uptake and cell proliferation, are obtained experimentally. To validate the model, human Glioblastoma multiforme (hGBM) tumor spheroids were incorporated inside Matrigel/Alginate composite hydrogel and was injected into a microfluidic chip to mimic the tumor’s natural microenvironment. The invasion structure was analyzed by imaging the spheroid over time. Also, the expression of transcriptional factors involved in invasion was measured by immune-staining the tumor. The volumetric growth, stress distribution, and inelastic evolution of tumors were predicted by the model. Results showed that the level of invasion is in direct correlation with the level of predicted stress within the tumor. Moreover, the invasion length measured by fluorescent imaging was shown to be related to the inelastic evolution of tumors obtained by the model.

Keywords: Cancer, Mathematical Modeling, microfluidic chip, invasion, tumor spheroids

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1 On the Thermodynamics of Biological Cell Adhesion

Authors: Ben Nadler


Cell adhesion plays a vital role in many cell activities. The motivation to model cell adhesion is to study important biological processes, such as cell spreading, cell aggregation, tissue formation, and cell adhesion, which are very challenging to study by experimental methods alone. This study provides important insight into cell adhesion, which can lead to improve regenerative medicine and tissue formation techniques. In this presentation the biological cells adhesion is mediated by receptors–ligands binding and the diffusivity of the receptor on the cell membrane surface. The ability of receptors to diffuse on the cell membrane surface yields a very unique and complicated adhesion mechanism, which is exclusive to cells. The phospholipid bilayer, which is the main component in the cell membrane, shows fluid-like behavior associated with the molecules’ diffusivity. The biological cell is modeled as a fluid-like membrane with negligible bending stiffness enclosing the cytoplasm fluid. The in-plane mechanical behavior of the cell membrane is assumed to depend only on the area change, which is motivated by the fluidity of the phospholipid bilayer. In addition, the presence of receptors influences on the local mechanical properties of the cell membrane is accounted for by including stress-free area change, which depends on the receptor density. Based on the physical properties of the receptors and ligands the attraction between the receptors and ligands is modeled as a charged-nonpolar which is a noncovalent interaction. Such interaction is a short-range type, which decays fast with distance. The mobility of the receptor on the cell membrane is modeled using the diffusion equation and Fick’s law is used to model the receptor–receptor interactions. The resultant interaction force, which includes receptor–ligand and receptor–receptor interaction, is decomposed into tangential part, which governs the receptor diffusion, and normal part, which governs the cell deformation and adhesion. The formulation of the governing equations and numerical simulations will be presented. Analysis of the adhesion characteristic and properties are discussed. The roles of various thermomechanical properties of the cell, receptors and ligands on the cell adhesion are investigated.

Keywords: Cell Membrane, cell adhesion, receptor-ligand interaction, receptor diffusion

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