A review of mathematical models of cancer-immune interactions in the context of tumor dormancy

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013:734:201-34. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-1445-2_10.


The role of the immune system in tumor dormancy is now well established. In an immune-induced dormant state, potentially lethal cancer cells persist in a state where growth is restricted, to little or no increase, by the host's immune response. To describe this state in the context of cancer progression and immune response, basic temporal (spatially homogeneous) quantitative predator-prey constructs are discussed, along with some current and proposed augmentations that incorporate potentially significant biological phenomena such as the cancer cell transition to a quiescent state or the time delay in T-cell activation. Advances in cancer-immune modeling that describe complex interactions underlying the ability of the immune system to both promote and inhibit tumor growth are emphasized. Finally, the review concludes by discussing future mathematical challenges and their biological significance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Cell Communication*
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / immunology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Models, Immunological*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Escape


  • Antibodies, Neoplasm