Pattern of self-organization in tumour systems: Complex growth dynamics in a novel brain tumour spheroid model

T. S. Deisboeck, M. E. Berens, A. R. Kansal, S. Torquato, A. O. Stemmer-Rachamimov, E. A. Chiocca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


We propose that a highly malignant brain tumour is an opportunistic, self-organizing and adaptive complex dynamic biosystem rather than an unorganized cell mass. To test the hypothesis of related key behaviour such as cell proliferation and invasion, we have developed a new in vitro assay capable of displaying several of the dynamic features of this multiparameter system in the same experimental setting. This assay investigates the development of multicellular U87MGmEGFR spheroids in a specific extracellular matrix gel over time. The results show that key features such as volumetric growth and cell invasion can be analysed in the same setting over 144 h without continuously supplementing additional nutrition. Moreover, tumour proliferation and invasion are closely correlated and both key features establish a distinct ratio over time to achieve maximum cell velocity and to maintain the system's temporo-spatial expansion dynamics. Single cell invasion follows a chain-like pattern leading to the new concept of a intrabranch homotype attraction. Since preliminary studies demonstrate that heterotype attraction can specifically direct and accelerate the emerging invasive network, we further introduce the concept of least resistance, most permission and highest attraction as an essential principle for tumour invasion. Together, these results support the hypothesis of a self-organizing adaptive biosystem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-134
Number of pages20
JournalCell Proliferation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cell Biology


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