In silico analysis of cell cycle synchronisation effects in radiotherapy of tumour spheroids

  • Tumour cells show a varying susceptibility to radiation damage as a function of the current cell cycle phase. While this sensitivity is averaged out in an unperturbed tumour due to unsynchronised cell cycle progression, external stimuli such as radiation or drug doses can induce a resynchronisation of the cell cycle and consequently induce a collective development of radiosensitivity in tumours. Although this effect has been regularly described in experiments it is currently not exploited in clinical practice and thus a large potential for optimisation is missed. We present an agent-based model for three-dimensional tumour spheroid growth which has been combined with an irradiation damage and kinetics model. We predict the dynamic response of the overall tumour radiosensitivity to delivered radiation doses and describe corresponding time windows of increased or decreased radiation sensitivity. The degree of cell cycle resynchronisation in response to radiation delivery was identified as a main determinant of the transient periods of low and high radiosensitivity enhancement. A range of selected clinical fractionation schemes is examined and new triggered schedules are tested which aim to maximise the effect of the radiation-induced sensitivity enhancement. We find that the cell cycle resynchronisation can yield a strong increase in therapy effectiveness, if employed correctly. While the individual timing of sensitive periods will depend on the exact cell and radiation types, enhancement is a universal effect which is present in every tumour and accordingly should be the target of experimental investigation. Experimental observables which can be assessed non-invasively and with high spatio-temporal resolution have to be connected to the radiosensitivity enhancement in order to allow for a possible tumour-specific design of highly efficient treatment schedules based on induced cell cycle synchronisation. Author Summary: The sensitivity of a cell to a dose of radiation is largely affected by its current position within the cell cycle. While under normal circumstances progression through the cell cycle will be asynchronous in a tumour mass, external influences such as chemo- or radiotherapy can induce a synchronisation. Such a common progression of the inner clock of the cancer cells results in the critical dependence on the effectiveness of any drug or radiation dose on a suitable timing for its administration. We analyse the exact evolution of the radiosensitivity of a sample tumour spheroid in a computer model, which enables us to predict time windows of decreased or increased radiosensitivity. Fractionated radiotherapy schedules can be tailored in order to avoid periods of high resistance and exploit the induced radiosensitivity for an increase in therapy efficiency. We show that the cell cycle effects can drastically alter the outcome of fractionated irradiation schedules in a spheroid cell system. By using the correct observables and continuous monitoring, the cell cycle sensitivity effects have the potential to be integrated into treatment planing of the future and thus to be employed for a better outcome in clinical cancer therapies.

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Author:Harald KempfGND, Haralampos Hatzikirou, Marcus BleicherORCiDGND, Michael Meyer-HermannORCiDGND
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):PLoS Computational Biology
Publisher:Public Library of Science
Place of publication:San Francisco, Calif.
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2013/11/14
Date of first Publication:2013/11/14
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2013/11/18
Issue:(11): e1003295
Page Number:14
First Page:1
Last Page:14
Copyright: © 2013 Kempf et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Institutes:Physik / Physik
Biowissenschaften / Biowissenschaften
Wissenschaftliche Zentren und koordinierte Programme / Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS)
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Sammlung Biologie / Sondersammelgebiets-Volltexte
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Nicht kommerziell-Keine Bearbeitung 3.0