Multi-scale models of cell and tissue dynamics

Magdalena A. Stolarska, K. I.M. Yangjin, Hans G. Othmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Cell and tissue movement are essential processes at various stages in the life cycle of most organisms. The early development of multi-cellular organisms involves individual and collective cell movement; leukocytes must migrate towards sites of infection as part of the immune response; and in cancer, directed movement is involved in invasion and metastasis. The forces needed to drive movement arise from actin polymerization, molecular motors and other processes, but understanding the cell- or tissue-level organization of these processes that is needed to produce the forces necessary for directed movement at the appropriate point in the cell or tissue is a major challenge. In this paper, we present three models that deal with the mechanics of cells and tissues: a model of an arbitrarily deformable single cell, a discrete model of the onset of tumour growth in which each cell is treated individually, and a hybrid continuum-discrete model of the later stages of tumour growth. While the models are different in scope, their underlying mechanical and mathematical principles are similar and can be applied to a variety of biological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3525-3553
Number of pages29
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1902
StatePublished - Sep 13 2009


  • Cell motility
  • Multi-scale models
  • Stress effects
  • Tumour dynamics


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