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Modeling tumor disease and sepsis by networks of adaptively coupled phase oscillators

Sawicki, Jakub; Berner, Rico; Löser, Thomas; Schöll, Eckehard

In this study, we provide a dynamical systems perspective to the modelling of pathological states induced by tumors or infection. A unified disease model is established using the innate immune system as the reference point. We propose a two-layer network model for carcinogenesis and sepsis based upon the interaction of parenchymal cells and immune cells via cytokines, and the co-evolutionary dynamics of parenchymal, immune cells, and cytokines. Our aim is to show that the complex cellular cooperation between parenchyma and stroma (immune layer) in the physiological and pathological case can be qualitatively and functionally described by a simple paradigmatic model of phase oscillators. By this, we explain carcinogenesis, tumor progression, and sepsis by destabilization of the healthy homeostatic state (frequency synchronized), and emergence of a pathological state (desynchronized or multifrequency cluster). The coupled dynamics of parenchymal cells (metabolism) and nonspecific immune cells (reaction of innate immune system) are represented by nodes of a duplex layer. The cytokine interaction is modeled by adaptive coupling weights between the nodes representing the immune cells (with fast adaptation time scale) and the parenchymal cells (slow adaptation time scale) and between the pairs of parenchymal and immune cells in the duplex network (fixed bidirectional coupling). Thereby, carcinogenesis, organ dysfunction in sepsis, and recurrence risk can be described in a correct functional context.
Published in: Frontiers in Network Physiology, 10.3389/fnetp.2021.730385, Frontiers