Despite internal complexity, tumor growth kinetics follow relatively simple laws that can be expressed as mathematical models. To explore this further, quantitative analysis of the most classical of these were performed. The models were assessed against data from two in vivo experimental systems: an ectopic syngeneic tumor (Lewis lung carcinoma) and an orthotopically xenografted human breast carcinoma. The goals were threefold: 1) to determine a statistical model for description of the measurement error, 2) to establish the descriptive power of each model, using several goodness-of-fit metrics and a study of parametric identifiability, and 3) to assess the models' ability to forecast future tumor growth. The models included in the study comprised the exponential, exponential-linear, power law, Gompertz, logistic, generalized logistic, von Bertalanffy and a model with dynamic carrying capacity. For the breast data, the dynamics were best captured by the Gompertz and exponential-linear models. The latter also exhibited the highest predictive power, with excellent prediction scores (?80%) extending out as far as 12 days in the future. For the lung data, the Gompertz and power law models provided the most parsimonious and parametrically identifiable description. However, not one of the models was able to achieve a substantial prediction rate (?70%) beyond the next day data point. In this context, adjunction of a priori information on the parameter distribution led to considerable improvement. For instance, forecast success rates went from 14.9% to 62.7% when using the power law model to predict the full future tumor growth curves, using just three data points. These results not only have important implications for biological theories of tumor growth and the use of mathematical modeling in preclinical anti-cancer drug investigations, but also may assist in defining how mathematical models could serve as potential prognostic tools in the clinic.
Proton radiation is touted for improved tumor targeting, over standard gamma radiation, due to the physical advantages of ion beams for radiotherapy. Recent studies from our laboratory demonstrate that in addition to these targeting advantages, proton irradiation can inhibit angiogenic and immune factors critical to "hallmark" processes that impact cancer progression, thereby modulating tumor development. Outside the therapeutic utilization of protons, high-energy protons constitute a principal component of galactic cosmic rays and thus are a consideration in carcinogenesis risk for space flight. Given that proton irradiation modulates fundamental biological processes known to decrease with aging (e.g. angiogenesis and immunogenicity), we investigated how proton irradiation impacts tumor advancement as a function of host age, a question with both therapeutic and carcinogenesis implications. Tumor lag time and growth dynamics were tracked, after injection of murine Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cells into syngeneic adolescent (68 day) vs. old (736 day) C57BL/6 mice with or without coincident irradiation. Tumor growth was suppressed in old compared to adolescent mice. These differences were further modulated by proton irradiation (1 GeV), with increased inhibition and a significant radiation-altered molecular fingerprint evident in tumors grown in old mice. Through global transcriptome analysis, TGF?1 and TGF?2 were determined to be key players that contributed to the tumor dynamics observed. These findings suggest that old hosts exhibit a reduced capacity to support tumor advancement, which can be further reduced by proton irradiation.
Tumor dormancy is a highly prevalent stage in cancer progression. We have previously generated and characterized in vivo experimental models of human tumor dormancy in which micro-tumors remain occult until they spontaneously shift into rapid tumor growth. We showed that the dormant micro-tumors undergo a stable microRNA (miRNA) switch during their transition from dormancy to a fast-growing phenotype and reported the identification of a consensus signature of human tumor dormancy-associated miRNAs (DmiRs). miRNA-190 (miR-190) is among the most upregulated DmiRs in all dormant tumors analyzed. Upregulation of miR-190 led to prolonged tumor dormancy in otherwise fast-growing glioblastomas and osteosarcomas. Here we investigate the transcriptional changes induced by miR-190 expression in cancer cells and show similar patterns of miR-190 mediated transcriptional reprogramming in both glioblastoma and osteosarcoma cells. The data suggests that miR-190 mediated effects rely on an extensive network of molecular changes in tumor cells and that miR-190 affects several transcriptional factors, tumor suppressor genes and interferon response pathways. The molecular mechanisms governing tumor dormancy described in this work may provide promising targets for early prevention of cancer and may lead to novel treatments to convert the malignant tumor phenotype into an asymptomatic dormant state.
Age plays a major role in tumor incidence and is an important consideration when modeling the carcinogenesis process or estimating cancer risks. Epidemiological data show that from adolescence through middle age, cancer incidence increases with age. This effect is commonly attributed to a lifetime accumulation of cellular, particularly DNA, damage. However, during middle age the incidence begins to decelerate and, for many tumor sites, it actually decreases at sufficiently advanced ages. We investigated if the observed deceleration and potential decrease in incidence could be attributed to a decreased capacity of older hosts to support tumor progression, and whether HZE [high atomic number (Z), high energy (E)] radiation differentially modulates tumor progression in young vs. middle-age hosts, issues that are relevant to estimating carcinogenesis risk for astronauts. Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cells were injected into syngeneic mice (143 and 551 days old), which were then subject to whole-body (56)Fe irradiation (1 GeV/amu). Three findings emerged: (1) among unirradiated animals, substantial inhibition of tumor progression and significantly decreased tumor growth rates were seen for middle-aged mice compared to young mice, (2) whole-body (56)Fe irradiation inhibited tumor progression in both young and middle-aged mice (with greater suppression seen in case of young animals), with little effect on tumor growth rates, and (3) (56)Fe irradiation suppressed tumor progression in young mice to a degree that was not significantly different than transiting from young to middle-aged. Thus, (56)Fe irradiation acted similar to aging with respect to tumor progression. We further investigated the molecular underpinnings driving the radiation modulation of tumor dynamics in young and middle-aged mice. Through global gene expression analysis, the key players, FASN, AKT1 and the CXCL12/CXCR4 complex, were determined to be contributory. In sum, these findings demonstrated a reduced capacity of middle-aged hosts to support the progression phase of carcinogenesis and identify molecular factors that contribute to HZE radiation modulation of tumor progression as a function of age.
Transfer of cellular material via tunneling nanotubes (TNT) was recently discovered as a novel mechanism for intercellular communication. The role of intercellular exchange in communication of renal epithelium is not known. Here we report extensive spontaneous intercellular exchange of cargo vesicles and organelles between primary human proximal tubular epithelial cells (RPTEC). Cells were labeled with two different quantum dot nanocrystals (Qtracker 605 or 525) and intercellular exchange was quantified by high-throughput fluorescence imaging and FACS analysis. In co-culture, a substantial fraction of cells (67.5%) contained both dyes indicating high levels of spontaneous intercellular exchange in RPTEC. The double positive cells could be divided into three categories based on the preponderance of 605 Qtracker (46.30%), 525 Qtracker (48.3%) and approximately equal content of both Qtrackers (4.57%). The transfer of mitochondria between RPTECs was also detected using an organelle specific dye. Inhibition of TNT genesis by actin polymerization inhibitor (Latrunculin B) markedly reduced intercellular exchange (>60%) suggesting that intercellular exchange in RPTEC was in part mediated via TNT-like structures. In contrast, induction of cellular stress by Zeocin treatment increased tube-genesis in RPTEC. Our data indicates an unexpected dynamic of intercellular communication between RPTEC by exchange of cytosolic material, which may play an important role in renal physiology.
Even after a tumor is established, it can early on enter a state of dormancy marked by balanced cell proliferation and cell death. Disturbances to this equilibrium may affect cancer risk, as they may cause the eventual lifetime clinical presentation of a tumor that might otherwise have remained asymptomatic. Previously, we showed that cell death, proliferation, and migration can play a role in shifting this dynamic, making the understanding of their combined influence on tumor development essential. We developed an individual cell-based computer model of the interaction of cancer stem cells and their nonstem progeny to study early tumor dynamics. Simulations of tumor growth show that three basic components of tumor growth--cell proliferation, migration, and death--combine in unexpected ways to control tumor progression and, thus, clinical cancer risk. We show that increased proliferation capacity in nonstem tumor cells and limited cell migration overall lead to space constraints that inhibit proliferation and tumor growth. By contrast, increasing the rate of cell death produces the expected tumor size reduction in the short term, but results ultimately in paradoxical accelerated long-term growth owing to the liberation of cancer stem cells and formation of self-metastases.
Tumor dormancy refers to a critical stage in cancer development in which tumor cells remain occult for a prolonged period of time until they eventually progress and become clinically apparent. We previously showed that the switch of dormant tumors to fast-growth is angiogenesis dependent and requires a stable transcriptional reprogramming in tumor cells. Considering microRNAs (miRs) as master regulators of transcriptome, we sought to investigate their role in the control of tumor dormancy. We report here the identification of a consensus set of 19 miRs that govern the phenotypic switch of human dormant breast carcinoma, glioblastoma, osteosarcoma, and liposarcoma tumors to fast-growth. Loss of expression of dormancy-associated miRs (DmiRs, 16/19) was the prevailing regulation pattern correlating with the switch of dormant tumors to fast-growth. The expression pattern of two DmiRs (miR-580 and 190) was confirmed to correlate with disease stage in human glioma specimens. Reconstitution of a single DmiR (miR-580, 588 or 190) led to phenotypic reversal of fast-growing angiogenic tumors towards prolonged tumor dormancy. Of note, 60% of angiogenic glioblastoma and 100% of angiogenic osteosarcoma over-expressing miR190 remained dormant during the entire observation period of ? 120 days. Next, the ability of DmiRs to regulate angiogenesis and dormancy-associated genes was evaluated. Transcriptional reprogramming of tumors via DmiR-580, 588 or 190 over-expression resulted in downregulation of pro-angiogenic factors such as TIMP-3, bFGF and TGFalpha. In addition, a G-CSF independent downregulation of Bv8 was found as a common target of all three DmiRs and correlated with decreased tumor recruitment of bone marrow-derived CD11b+ Gr-1+ myeloid cells. In contrast, antiangiogenic and dormancy promoting pathways such as EphA5 and Angiomotin were upregulated in DmiR over-expressing tumors. This work suggests novel means to reverse the malignant tumor phenotype into an asymptomatic dormant state and may provide promising targets for early detection or prevention of cancer.
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