Chalmers Conferences, 9th European Conference on Mathematical and Theoretical Biology

The Role of Stem Cell Plasticity in Ductal Carcinoma
Noemi Picco, Alexander R. A. Anderson

Last modified: 2014-03-31


Cancer stem cells are believed to be the sole initiator and driver of tumor growth, given their self-renewal and tissue restoration properties. Their eradication may offer the ultimate in targeted tumor treatment. Indeed characterizing the behavior of this peculiar cell type will critically allow us to identify the dynamics that lead to the formation of solid tumors, however this topic is still in its infancy and subject of debate.The strict hierarchical view of the cancer stem cell population is very much the accepted view. However, recent data suggest that a specialized microenvironment (the niche) is a key driver of stemness, proposing a new, more plastic view of the stem phenotype, where the niche dictates the cell's ability to stay in a stem-like state. The idea that any cell can become a stem-like cell and also lose this phenotype and that this ability is purely context driven is quite novel.An in silico investigation of the plasticity of stemness in early ductal carcinoma is presented. Implementing a hybrid discrete-continuum model it is possible to describe the dynamics at the single cell scale, result of the interaction between the phenotypically heterogeneous cancer cell population and environmental factors. Varying the values of parameters related to the microenvironmental component, it is possible to obtain a spectrum of in silico pathological tissues which correspond to clinically observed scenarios.


cancer stem cells; ductal carcinoma; phenotypic plasticity; tumour microenvironment; stemness