Growing tumors put the pressure on nutrient-supplying blood vessels

January 26, 2017, Public Library of Science
Snapshots of the tumor growth and blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) in computational model simulations, illustrating vessel formation and remodeling, cancer growth, and the secretion of biochemical cues to trigger blood vessel growth. Credit: Vavourakis et al.

Mechanical pressure caused by cancer growth plays a key role in the development and distribution of blood vessels in tumors, according to a new UCL (University College London) study published in PLOS Computational Biology.

Previous research has shown that solid tumors (lung and brain tumors, for example) use biochemical signals to trigger the growth of new that deliver nutrients and promote . However, little is known about how mechanical forces exerted by a growing tumor affect these blood vessels.

In the new study, Vasileios Vavourakis of UCL and colleagues developed a three-dimensional computational model to simulate tumor-induced blood vessel development. Unlike previous models that only considered biochemical processes, their model also incorporates the mechanical processes at play during tumor growth.

Using the new model, the researchers demonstrated that a growing tumor can compress and sometimes collapse blood vessels, thus, blocking blood flow to parts of the tumor. This could deprive the tumor of oxygen and cause it to behave more invasively. It could also cause drugs to be delivered unevenly throughout the tumor, reducing the efficacy of treatment.

To help validate the model, the scientists compared its output with real-life observations of in mice with cancer. They found that the model more accurately simulated and distribution when mechanical processes—not just biochemical cues—were incorporated.

"The next steps of our research are to combine our computational modeling platform with experimental investigations to improve the delivery of anti-cancer drugs and the efficacy of radiotherapy," Vavourakis says. "Our aim is to reduce the dependence on animal studies in developing anti-cancer therapies, and to design more effective human clinical trials."

Explore further: Cancer cells' transition can drive tumor growth, researchers find

More information: Vavourakis V, Wijeratne PA, Shipley R, Loizidou M, Stylianopoulos T, Hawkes DJ (2017) A Validated Multiscale In-Silico Model for Mechano-sensitive Tumour Angiogenesis and Growth. PLoS Comput Biol 13(1): e1005259.DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005259

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gzurbay
not rated yet Jan 26, 2017
Ignoring mechanical factors in the body likely fails to inform many disease processes. Edema from muscle overuse injury pressurizes the fascial bag covering a muscle group. This fascia is strong enough to withstand substantial mechanical forces of muscle contraction, - and well able to withstand ANY internal pressure applied as a result of edema. In the case of anterior compartmental syndrome the result maybe death of the tissue due to reduced circulation. I submit edema from RSI can easily interfere in nerve process, and exert enough pressure to severely reduce blood flow through capillaries - thus sustaining a condition of chronic muscle dysfunction.

High pressure - deep tissue massage can reduce pressure and muscle spindle cell over activation giving the muscle and tendon time to heal.

Years ago high internal tumor pressure was thought to likely defeat dispersal of cancer drugs into tumors. I have to wonder if pressure of edema defeats flow to ligaments tendons - joints.

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