• In silico analysis of cell cycle synchronisation effects in radiotherapy of tumour spheroids.

      Kempf, Harald; Hatzikirou, Haralampos; Bleicher, Marcus; Müller, A; Department of Systems Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany ; Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, Frankfurt, Germany. (2013-11)
      Tumour cells show a varying susceptibility to radiation damage as a function of the current cell cycle phase. While this sensitivity is averaged out in an unperturbed tumour due to unsynchronised cell cycle progression, external stimuli such as radiation or drug doses can induce a resynchronisation of the cell cycle and consequently induce a collective development of radiosensitivity in tumours. Although this effect has been regularly described in experiments it is currently not exploited in clinical practice and thus a large potential for optimisation is missed. We present an agent-based model for three-dimensional tumour spheroid growth which has been combined with an irradiation damage and kinetics model. We predict the dynamic response of the overall tumour radiosensitivity to delivered radiation doses and describe corresponding time windows of increased or decreased radiation sensitivity. The degree of cell cycle resynchronisation in response to radiation delivery was identified as a main determinant of the transient periods of low and high radiosensitivity enhancement. A range of selected clinical fractionation schemes is examined and new triggered schedules are tested which aim to maximise the effect of the radiation-induced sensitivity enhancement. We find that the cell cycle resynchronisation can yield a strong increase in therapy effectiveness, if employed correctly. While the individual timing of sensitive periods will depend on the exact cell and radiation types, enhancement is a universal effect which is present in every tumour and accordingly should be the target of experimental investigation. Experimental observables which can be assessed non-invasively and with high spatio-temporal resolution have to be connected to the radiosensitivity enhancement in order to allow for a possible tumour-specific design of highly efficient treatment schedules based on induced cell cycle synchronisation.
    • In Vivo Killing Capacity of Cytotoxic T Cells Is Limited and Involves Dynamic Interactions and T Cell Cooperativity.

      Halle, Stephan; Keyser, Kirsten Anja; Stahl, Felix Rolf; Busche, Andreas; Marquardt, Anja; Zheng, Xiang; Galla, Melanie; Heissmeyer, Vigo; Heller, Katrin; Boelter, Jasmin; et al. (2016-02-16)
      According to in vitro assays, T cells are thought to kill rapidly and efficiently, but the efficacy and dynamics of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-mediated killing of virus-infected cells in vivo remains elusive. We used two-photon microscopy to quantify CTL-mediated killing in mice infected with herpesviruses or poxviruses. On average, one CTL killed 2-16 virus-infected cells per day as determined by real-time imaging and by mathematical modeling. In contrast, upon virus-induced MHC class I downmodulation, CTLs failed to destroy their targets. During killing, CTLs remained migratory and formed motile kinapses rather than static synapses with targets. Viruses encoding the calcium sensor GCaMP6s revealed strong heterogeneity in individual CTL functional capacity. Furthermore, the probability of death of infected cells increased for those contacted by more than two CTLs, indicative of CTL cooperation. Thus, direct visualization of CTLs during killing of virus-infected cells reveals crucial parameters of CD8(+) T cell immunity.
    • Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Hypoxia during Radiotherapy.

      Kempf, Harald; Bleicher, Marcus; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
      Tumour hypoxia plays a pivotal role in cancer therapy for most therapeutic approaches from radiotherapy to immunotherapy. The detailed and accurate knowledge of the oxygen distribution in a tumour is necessary in order to determine the right treatment strategy. Still, due to the limited spatial and temporal resolution of imaging methods as well as lacking fundamental understanding of internal oxygenation dynamics in tumours, the precise oxygen distribution map is rarely available for treatment planing. We employ an agent-based in silico tumour spheroid model in order to study the complex, localized and fast oxygen dynamics in tumour micro-regions which are induced by radiotherapy. A lattice-free, 3D, agent-based approach for cell representation is coupled with a high-resolution diffusion solver that includes a tissue density-dependent diffusion coefficient. This allows us to assess the space- and time-resolved reoxygenation response of a small subvolume of tumour tissue in response to radiotherapy. In response to irradiation the tumour nodule exhibits characteristic reoxygenation and re-depletion dynamics which we resolve with high spatio-temporal resolution. The reoxygenation follows specific timings, which should be respected in treatment in order to maximise the use of the oxygen enhancement effects. Oxygen dynamics within the tumour create windows of opportunity for the use of adjuvant chemotherapeutica and hypoxia-activated drugs. Overall, we show that by using modelling it is possible to follow the oxygenation dynamics beyond common resolution limits and predict beneficial strategies for therapy and in vitro verification. Models of cell cycle and oxygen dynamics in tumours should in the future be combined with imaging techniques, to allow for a systematic experimental study of possible improved schedules and to ultimately extend the reach of oxygenation monitoring available in clinical treatment.