Properties of tumor spheroid growth exhibited by simple mathematical models

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Frontiers in Molecular and Cellular Oncology


Department of Mathematics


Solid tumors, whether in vitro or in vivo, are not an undifferentiated mass of cells. They include necrotic regions, regions of cells that are in a quiescent state (either slowly growing or not growing at all), and regions where cells proliferate rapidly. The decision of a cell to become quiescent or proliferating is thought to depend on both nutrient and oxygen availability and on the presence of tumor necrosis factor, a substance produced by necrotic cells that somehow inhibits the further growth of the tumor. Several different models have been suggested for the basic growth rate of in vitro tumor spheroids, and several different mechanisms are possible by which tumor necrosis factor might halt growth. The models predict the trajectory of growth for a virtual tumor, including proportions of the various components during its time evolution. In this paper we look at a range of hypotheses about basic rates tumor growth and the role of tumor necrotic factor, and determine what possible tumor growth patterns follow from each of twenty-five reasonable models. Proliferating, quiescent and necrotic cells are included, along with tumor necrosis factor as a potential inhibitor of growth in the proliferating pool and two way exchange between the quiescent and proliferating pools. We show that a range of observed qualitative properties of in vitro tumor spheroids at equilibrium are exhibited by one particular simple mathematical model, and discuss implications of this model for tumor growth.



Original Citation

Wallace DI, Guo X. Properties of tumor spheroid growth exhibited by simple mathematical models. Front Oncol. 2013 Mar 15;3:51. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2013.00051. PMID: 23508803; PMCID: PMC3598098.