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BACKGROUND: Investigations of solid tumours suggest that vessel occlusion may occur when increased pressure from the tumour mass is exerted on the vessel walls. Since immature vessels are frequently found in tumours and may be particularly sensitive, such occlusion may impair tumour blood flow and have a negative impact on therapeutic outcome. In order to study the effects that occlusion may have on tumour growth patterns and therapeutic response, in this paper we develop and investigate a continuum model of vascular tumour growth. RESULTS: By analysing a spatially uniform submodel, we identify regions of parameter space in which the combination of tumour cell proliferation and vessel occlusion give rise to sustained temporal oscillations in the tumour cell population and in the vessel density. Alternatively, if the vessels are assumed to be less prone to collapse, stable steady state solutions are observed. When spatial effects are considered, the pattern of tumour invasion depends on the dynamics of the spatially uniform submodel. If the submodel predicts a stable steady state, then steady travelling waves are observed in the full model, and the system evolves to the same stable steady state behind the invading front. When the submodel yields oscillatory behaviour, the full model produces periodic travelling waves. The stability of the waves (which can be predicted by approximating the system as one of lambda-omega type) dictates whether the waves develop into regular or irregular spatio-temporal oscillations. Simulations of chemotherapy reveal that treatment outcome depends crucially on the underlying tumour growth dynamics. In particular, if the dynamics are oscillatory, then therapeutic efficacy is difficult to assess since the fluctuations in the size of the tumour cell population are enhanced, compared to untreated controls. CONCLUSIONS: We have developed a mathematical model of vascular tumour growth formulated as a system of partial differential equations (PDEs). Employing a combination of numerical and analytical techniques, we demonstrate how the spatio-temporal dynamics of the untreated tumour may influence its response to chemotherapy. REVIEWERS: This manuscript was reviewed by Professor Zvia Agur and Professor Marek Kimmel.

Original publication

DOI

10.1186/1745-6150-5-27

Type

Journal article

Journal

Biol Direct

Publication Date

20/04/2010

Volume

5

Keywords

Animals, Humans, Models, Theoretical, Neoplasms, Neovascularization, Pathologic