Tumor-immune dynamics regulated in the microenvironment inform the transient nature of immune-induced tumor dormancy

Cancer Res. 2013 Jun 15;73(12):3534-44. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-4590. Epub 2013 Mar 27.


Cancer in a host induces responses that increase the ability of the microenvironment to sustain the growing mass, for example, angiogenesis, but cancer cells can have varying sensitivities to these sustainability signals. Here, we show that these sensitivities are significant determinants of ultimate tumor fate, especially in response to treatments and immune interactions. We present a mathematical model of cancer-immune interactions that modifies generalized logistic growth with both immune-predation and immune-recruitment. The role of a growing environmental carrying capacity is discussed as a possible regulatory mechanism for tumor growth, and this regulation is shown to modify cancer-immune interactions and the possibility of achieving immune-induced tumor dormancy. This mathematical model qualitatively matches experimental observations of immune-induced tumor dormancy as it predicts dormancy as a transient period of growth that necessarily ends in either tumor elimination or tumor escape. As dormant tumors may exist asymptomatically and may be easier to treat with conventional therapy, an understanding of the mechanisms behind tumor dormancy may lead to new treatments aimed at prolonging the dormant state or converting an aggressive cancer to the dormant state.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Models, Immunological*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Tumor Burden / immunology
  • Tumor Escape / immunology
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology*