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Sci Rep. 2019 Jun 10;9(1):8429. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-44713-2.

A mathematical model of tumor-endothelial interactions in a 3D co-culture.

Author information

1
Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA.
2
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Department of Medicine, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.
3
Harvard Medical School, Health Sciences & Technology, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.
4
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Department of Medicine, Boston, MA, 02215, USA.
5
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA.
6
Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA. shiladit@mit.edu.
7
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Department of Medicine, Boston, MA, 02115, USA. shiladit@mit.edu.
8
Harvard Medical School, Health Sciences & Technology, Boston, MA, 02115, USA. shiladit@mit.edu.

Abstract

Intravasation and extravasation of cancer cells through blood/lymph vessel endothelium are essential steps during metastasis. Successful invasion requires coordinated tumor-endothelial crosstalk, utilizing mechanochemical signaling to direct cytoskeletal rearrangement for transmigration of cancer cells. However, mechanisms underlying physical interactions are difficult to observe due to the lack of experimental models easily combined with theoretical models that better elucidate these pathways. We have previously demonstrated that an engineered 3D in vitro endothelial-epithelial co-culture system can be used to isolate both molecular and physical tumor-endothelial interactions in a platform that is easily modeled, quantified, and probed for experimental investigation. Using this platform with mathematical modeling, we show that breast metastatic cells display unique behavior with the endothelium, exhibiting a 3.2-fold increase in interaction with the endothelium and a 61-fold increase in elongation compared to normal breast epithelial cells. Our mathematical model suggests energetic favorability for cellular deformation prior to breeching endothelial junctions, expending less energy as compared to undeformed cells, which is consistent with the observed phenotype. Finally, we show experimentally that pharmacological inhibition of the cytoskeleton can disrupt the elongatation and alignment of metastatic cells with endothelial tubes, reverting to a less invasive phenotype.

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