Refereed journal article or data article (A1)

Tumor microenvironment as a metapopulation model: The effects of angiogenesis, emigration and treatment modalities

List of AuthorsHalkola Anni S, Aittokallio Tero, Parvinen Kalle


Publication year2022

JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology


Journal acronymJ THEOR BIOL

Article number 111147

Volume number545

Number of pages15




Self-archived copy’s web address

Tumors consist of heterogeneous cell subpopulations that may develop differing phenotypes, such as increased cell growth, metastatic potential and treatment sensitivity or resistance. To study the dynamics of cancer development at a single-cell level, we model the tumor microenvironment as a metapopulation, in which habitat patches correspond to possible sites for cell subpopulations. Cancer cells may emigrate into dispersal pool (e.g. circulation system) and spread to new sites (i.e. metastatic disease). In the patches, cells divide and new variants may arise, possibly leading into an invasion provided the aberra-tion promotes the cell growth. To study such adaptive landscape of cancer ecosystem, we consider var-ious evolutionary strategies (phenotypes), such as emigration and angiogenesis, which are important determinants during early stages of tumor development. We use the metapopulation fitness of new vari-ants to investigate how these strategies evolve through natural selection and disease progression. We fur-ther study various treatment effects and investigate how different therapy regimens affect the evolution of the cell populations. These aspects are relevant, for example, when examining the dynamic process of a benign tumor becoming cancerous, and what is the best treatment strategy during the early stages of cancer development. It is shown that positive angiogenesis promotes cancer cell growth in the absence of anti-angiogenic treatment, and that the anti-angiogenic treatment reduces the need of cytotoxic treat-ment when used in a combination. Interestingly, the model predicts that treatment resistance might become a favorable quality to cancer cells when the anti-angiogenic treatment is intensive enough. Thus, the optimal treatment dosage should remain below a patient-specific level to avoid treatment resistance.(c) 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (

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Last updated on 2022-03-08 at 09:43