Global dynamics of healthy and cancer cells competing in the hematopoietic system

Morten Wienecke Andersen*, Hans Hasselbalch, Lasse Kjær, Vibe Skov, Johnny T. Ottesen

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Stem cells in the bone marrow differentiate to ultimately become mature, functioning blood cells through a tightly regulated process (hematopoiesis) including a stem cell niche interaction and feedback through the immune system. Mutations in a hematopoietic stem cell can create a cancer stem cell leading to a less controlled production of malfunctioning cells in the hematopoietic system. This was mathematically modelled by Andersen et al. (2017) including the dynamic variables: healthy and cancer stem cells and mature cells, dead cells and an immune system response. Here, we apply a quasi steady state approximation to this model to construct a two dimensional model with four algebraic equations denoted the simple cancitis model. The two dynamic variables are the clinically available quantities JAK2V617F allele burden and the number of white blood cells. The simple cancitis model represents the original model very well. Complete phase space analysis of the simple cancitis model is performed, including proving the existence and location of globally attracting steady states. Hence, parameter values from compartments of stem cells, mature cells and immune cells are directly linked to disease and treatment prognosis, showing the crucial importance of early intervention. The simple cancitis model allows for a complete analysis of the long term evolution of trajectories. In particular, the value of the self renewal of the hematopoietic stem cells divided by the self renewal of the cancer stem cells is found to be an important diagnostic marker and perturbing this parameter value at intervention allows the model to reproduce clinical data. Treatment at low cancer cell numbers allows returning to healthy blood production while the same intervention at a later disease stage can lead to eradication of healthy blood producing cells.

Assuming the total number of white blood cells is constant in the early cancer phase while the allele burden increases, a one dimensional model is suggested and explicitly solved, including parameters from all original compartments. The solution explicitly shows that exogenous inflammation promotes blood cancer when cancer stem cells reproduce more efficiently than hematopoietic stem cells.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108372
JournalMathematical Biosciences
Issue number326
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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