A model for membrane degradation using a gelatin invadopodia assay


One of the most crucial and lethal characteristics of solid tumors is represented by the increased ability of cancer cells to migrate and invade other organs during the so-called metastatic spread. This is allowed thanks to the production of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), enzymes capable of degrading a type of collagen abundant in the basal membrane separating the epithelial tissue from the connective one. In this work, we employ a syner- gistic experimental and mathematical modelling approach to explore the invasion process of tumor cells. A mathematical model composed of reaction-diffusion equations describing the evolution of the tumor cells density on a gelatin substrate, MMPs enzymes concentration and the degradation of the gelatin is proposed. This is completed with a calibration strat- egy. We perform a sensitivity analysis and explore a parameter estimation technique both on synthetic and experimental data in order to find the optimal parameters that describe the in vitro experiments. A comparison between numerical and experimental solutions ends the work.

Bull. Math. Biol