Solid Tumors Are Poroelastic Solids with a Chemo-mechanical Feedback on Growth
SourceJournal of Elasticity
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The experimental evidence that a feedback exists between growth and stress in tumors poses challenging questions. First, the rheological properties (the “constitutive equations”) of aggregates of malignant cells are still a matter of debate. Secondly, the feedback law (the “growth law”) that relates stress and mitotic–apoptotic rate is far to be identified. We address these questions on the basis of a theoretical analysis of in vitro and in vivo experiments that involve the growth of tumor spheroids. We show that solid tumors exhibit several mechanical features of a poroelastic material, where the cellular component behaves like an elastic solid. When the solid component of the spheroid is loaded at the boundary, the cellular aggregate grows up to an asymptotic volume that depends on the exerted compression. Residual stress shows up when solid tumors are radially cut, highlighting a peculiar tensional pattern. By a novel numerical approach we correlate the measured opening angle and the underlying residual stress in a sphere. The features of the mechanobiological system can be explained in terms of a feedback of mechanics on the cell proliferation rate as modulated by the availability of nutrient, that is radially damped by the balance between diffusion and consumption. The volumetric growth profiles and the pattern of residual stress can be theoretically reproduced assuming a dependence of the target stress on the concentration of nutrient which is specific of the malignant tissue. © 2017, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.