Homepage Inria website

Section: Research Program

Cell dynamics

We model dynamics of cell populations with two approaches, dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) and partial differential equations (PDE) of continuum mechanics. DPD is a relatively new method developed from molecular dynamics approach largely used in statistical physics. Particles in DPD do not necessarily correspond to atoms or molecules as in molecular dynamics. These can be mesoscopic particles. Thus, we describe in this approach a system of particles. In the simplest case where each particle is a sphere, they are characterized by their positions and velocities. The motion of particles is determined by Newton's second law (see Figure 1 ).

In our case, particles correspond to biological cells. The specific feature of this case in comparison with the conventional DPD is that cells can divide (proliferation), change their type (differentiation) and die by apoptosis or necrosis. Moreover, they interact with each other and with the extra-cellular matrix not only mechanically but also chemically. They can exchange signals, they can be influenced by various substances (growth factors, hormones, nutrients) coming from the extra-cellular matrix and, eventually, from other organs.

Distribution of the concentrations of bio-chemical substances in the extra-cellular matrix will be described by the diffusion equation with or without convective terms and with source and/or sink terms describing their production or consumption by cells. Thus we arrive to a coupled DPD-PDE model.

Cell behaviour (proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis) is determined by intra-cellular regulatory networks, which can be influenced by external signals. Intra-cellular regulatory networks (proteins controlling the cell cycle) can be described by systems of ordinary differential equations (ODE). Hence we obtain DPD-PDE-ODE models describing different levels of cell dynamics (see Figure 1 ). It is important to emphasize that the ODE systems are associated to each cell and they can depend on the cell environment (extra-cellular matrix and surrounding cells).