• The biology and mathematical modelling of glioma invasion: a review.

      Alfonso, J C L; Talkenberger, K; Seifert, M; Klink, B; Hawkins-Daarud, A; Swanson, K R; Hatzikirou, H; Deutsch, A; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-11)
      Adult gliomas are aggressive brain tumours associated with low patient survival rates and limited life expectancy. The most important hallmark of this type of tumour is its invasive behaviour, characterized by a markedly phenotypic plasticity, infiltrative tumour morphologies and the ability of malignant progression from low- to high-grade tumour types. Indeed, the widespread infiltration of healthy brain tissue by glioma cells is largely responsible for poor prognosis and the difficulty of finding curative therapies. Meanwhile, mathematical models have been established to analyse potential mechanisms of glioma invasion. In this review, we start with a brief introduction to current biological knowledge about glioma invasion, and then critically review and highlight future challenges for mathematical models of glioma invasion.
    • Cancer therapeutic potential of combinatorial immuno- and vasomodulatory interventions.

      Hatzikirou, H; Alfonso, J C L; Mühle, S; Stern, C; Weiss, S; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-11-06)
      Currently, most of the basic mechanisms governing tumour-immune system interactions, in combination with modulations of tumour-associated vasculature, are far from being completely understood. Here, we propose a mathematical model of vascularized tumour growth, where the main novelty is the modelling of the interplay between functional tumour vasculature and effector cell recruitment dynamics. Parameters are calibrated on the basis of different in vivo immunocompromised Rag1(-/-) and wild-type (WT) BALB/c murine tumour growth experiments. The model analysis supports that tumour vasculature normalization can be a plausible and effective strategy to treat cancer when combined with appropriate immunostimulations. We find that improved levels of functional tumour vasculature, potentially mediated by normalization or stress alleviation strategies, can provide beneficial outcomes in terms of tumour burden reduction and growth control. Normalization of tumour blood vessels opens a therapeutic window of opportunity to augment the antitumour immune responses, as well as to reduce intratumoral immunosuppression and induced hypoxia due to vascular abnormalities. The potential success of normalizing tumour-associated vasculature closely depends on the effector cell recruitment dynamics and tumour sizes. Furthermore, an arbitrary increase in the initial effector cell concentration does not necessarily imply better tumour control. We evidence the existence of an optimal concentration range of effector cells for tumour shrinkage. Based on these findings, we suggest a theory-driven therapeutic proposal that optimally combines immuno- and vasomodulatory interventions.
    • In-silico insights on the prognostic potential of immune cell infiltration patterns in the breast lobular epithelium.

      Alfonso, J C L; Schaadt, N S; Schönmeyer, R; Brieu, N; Forestier, G; Wemmert, C; Feuerhake, F; Hatzikirou, H; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-10-12)
      Scattered inflammatory cells are commonly observed in mammary gland tissue, most likely in response to normal cell turnover by proliferation and apoptosis, or as part of immunosurveillance. In contrast, lymphocytic lobulitis (LLO) is a recurrent inflammation pattern, characterized by lymphoid cells infiltrating lobular structures, that has been associated with increased familial breast cancer risk and immune responses to clinically manifest cancer. The mechanisms and pathogenic implications related to the inflammatory microenvironment in breast tissue are still poorly understood. Currently, the definition of inflammation is mainly descriptive, not allowing a clear distinction of LLO from physiological immunological responses and its role in oncogenesis remains unclear. To gain insights into the prognostic potential of inflammation, we developed an agent-based model of immune and epithelial cell interactions in breast lobular epithelium. Physiological parameters were calibrated from breast tissue samples of women who underwent reduction mammoplasty due to orthopedic or cosmetic reasons. The model allowed to investigate the impact of menstrual cycle length and hormone status on inflammatory responses to cell turnover in the breast tissue. Our findings suggested that the immunological context, defined by the immune cell density, functional orientation and spatial distribution, contains prognostic information previously not captured by conventional diagnostic approaches.
    • Modeling the effect of intratumoral heterogeneity of radiosensitivity on tumor response over the course of fractionated radiation therapy.

      Alfonso, J C L; Berk, L; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (BioMed Central (BMC), 2019-05-30)
      Standard radiobiology theory of radiation response assumes a uniform innate radiosensitivity of tumors. However, experimental data show that there is significant intratumoral heterogeneity of radiosensitivity. Therefore, a model with heterogeneity was developed and tested using existing experimental data to show the potential effects from the presence of an intratumoral distribution of radiosensitivity on radiation therapy response over a protracted radiation therapy treatment course.
    • Why one-size-fits-all vaso-modulatory interventions fail to control glioma invasion: in silico insights.

      Alfonso, J C L; Köhn-Luque, A; Stylianopoulos, T; Feuerhake, F; Deutsch, A; Hatzikirou, H; Braunschweiger zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-11-23)
      Gliomas are highly invasive brain tumours characterised by poor prognosis and limited response to therapy. There is an ongoing debate on the therapeutic potential of vaso-modulatory interventions against glioma invasion. Prominent vasculature-targeting therapies involve tumour blood vessel deterioration and normalisation. The former aims at tumour infarction and nutrient deprivation induced by blood vessel occlusion/collapse. In contrast, the therapeutic intention of normalising the abnormal tumour vasculature is to improve the efficacy of conventional treatment modalities. Although these strategies have shown therapeutic potential, it remains unclear why they both often fail to control glioma growth. To shed some light on this issue, we propose a mathematical model based on the migration/proliferation dichotomy of glioma cells in order to investigate why vaso-modulatory interventions have shown limited success in terms of tumour clearance. We found the existence of a critical cell proliferation/diffusion ratio that separates glioma responses to vaso-modulatory interventions into two distinct regimes. While for tumours, belonging to one regime, vascular modulations reduce the front speed and increase the infiltration width, for those in the other regime, the invasion speed increases and infiltration width decreases. We discuss how these in silico findings can be used to guide individualised vaso-modulatory approaches to improve treatment success rates.