MONC - 2019

Section: New Results

A reduced Gompertz model for predicting tumor age using a population approach

Authors: C. Vaghi, A. Rodallec, R. Fanciullino, J. Ciccolini, J. Mochel, M. Mastri, C. Poignard, J. ML Ebos, S. Benzekry. Accepted for publication in PLoS Computational Biology. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/670869v2

Tumor growth curves are classically modeled by means of ordinary differential equations. In analyzing the Gompertz model several studies have reported a striking correlation between the two parameters of the model, which could be used to reduce the dimensionality and improve predictive power.

We analyzed tumor growth kinetics within the statistical framework of nonlinear mixed-effects (population approach). This allowed the simultaneous modeling of tumor dynamics and inter-animal variability. Experimental data comprised three animal models of breast and lung cancers, with 833 measurements in 94 animals. Candidate models of tumor growth included the exponential, logistic and Gompertz. The exponential and – more notably – logistic models failed to describe the experimental data whereas the Gompertz model generated very good fits. The previously reported population-level correlation between the Gompertz parameters was further confirmed in our analysis (R2 > 0.92 in all groups). Combining this structural correlation with rigorous population parameter estimation, we propose a reduced Gompertz function consisting of a single individual parameter (and one population parameter). Leveraging the population approach using Bayesian inference, we estimated times of tumor initiation using three late measurement timepoints. The reduced Gompertz model was found to exhibit the best results, with drastic improvements when using Bayesian inference as compared to likelihood maximization alone, for both accuracy and precision. Specifically, mean accuracy was 12.2% versus 78% and mean precision was 15.6 days versus 210 days, for the breast cancer cell line.

These results offer promising clinical perspectives for the personalized prediction of tumor age from limited data at diagnosis. In turn, such predictions could be helpful for assessing the extent of invisible metastasis at the time of diagnosis.

The code and the data used in our analysis are available at https://github.com/cristinavaghi/plumky.