Y. Kim, J. Wallace, F. Li, M. Ostrowski and A. Friedman
Transformed Epithelias cells (TEC) and fibroblasts/myofibroblasts interaction in Breast Tumor: A Mathematical Model and Experiments
Journal of Mathematical BiologyVol. 61 No. 3
(2010) pp. 401-421
AbstractIt is well known that tumor and its microenvironment, or stroma, interact with each other and that this interaction plays a critical role in tumor initiation, growth, and metastasis. This interaction consists of complex relations between tumor cells, stromal cells such as fibroblasts, epithelial cells and immunocytes, the vascular system, the extracellular matrix, and cytokines secreted by the cells. Understanding these relationships may lead to new therapeutic approaches to cancer. In the present paper, we consider tumor-stroma crosstalk in a simple in vitro situation which involves interaction between tumor epithelial cells from breast cancer and a microenvironment consisting of just fibroblasts. The two populations of cells are separated by a semi-permeable membrane that allows only cytokines to cross over. We develop a mathematical model that includes two critical growth factors: TGF-beta, produced by the tumor cells, and EGF, secreted by the fibroblasts. The TGF-beta modifies the microenvironment by transforming fibroblasts into myofibroblasts. Myofibroblasts secrete higher concentrations of EGF than fibroblasts, thereby, increasing the proliferation of tumor cells. Thus already in this simple setup one sees a mutual interaction between tumor cells and their microenvironment. We conducted experiments which show good agreement with the model's simulations, hence confirming the model's ability to predict aspects of tumor cell behavior in response to signaling from fibroblasts.