Positive feedback and angiogenesis in tumor growth control

Bull Math Biol. 1997 Mar;59(2):233-54. doi: 10.1007/BF02462002.


In vivo tumor growth data from experiments performed in our laboratory suggest that basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) are angiogenic signals emerging from an up-regulated genetic message in the proliferating rim of a solid tumor in response to tumor-wide hypoxia. If these signals are generated in response to unfavorable environmental conditions, i.e. a decrease in oxygen tension, then the tumor may play an active role in manipulating its own environment. We have idealized this type of adaptive behavior in our mathematical model via a parameter which represents the carrying capacity of the host for the tumor. If that model parameter is held constant, then environmental control is limited to tumor shape and mitogenic signal processing. However, if we assume that the response of the local stroma to these signals is an increase in the host's ability to support an ever larger tumor, then our models describe a positive feedback control system. In this paper, we generalize our previous results to a model including a carrying capacity which depends on the size of the proliferating compartment in the tumor. Specific functional forms for the carrying capacity are discussed. Stability criteria of the system and steady state conditions for these candidate functions are analyzed. The dynamics needed to generate stable tumor growth, including countervailing negative feedback signals, are discussed in detail with respect to both their mathematical and biological properties.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / physiology
  • Feedback
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lymphokines / physiology
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Lymphokines
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2