A mathematical model for the diffusion of tumour angiogenesis factor into the surrounding host tissue

M. A. J. Chaplain, A. M. Stuart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Unless they are furnished with an adequate blood supply and a means of disposing of their waste products by a mechanism other than diffusion, solid tumours cannot grow beyond a few millimetres in diameter. It is now a well-established fact that, in order to accomplish this neovascularization, solid tumours secrete a diffusable chemical compound known as turnour angiogenesis factor (TAF) into the surrounding tissue. This stimulates nearby blood vessels to migrate towards and finally penetrate the tumour. Once provided with the new supply of nutrient, rapid growth takes place. In this paper, a mathematical model is presented for the diffusion of TAF into the surrounding tissue. The complete process of angiogenesis is made up of a sequence of several distinct events and the model is an attempt to take into account as many of these as possible. In the diffusion equation for the TAF, a decay term is included which models the loss of the chemical in the surrounding tissue itself. A threshold distance for the TAF is incorporated in an attempt to reflect the results from experiments of corneal implants in test animals. By formulating the problems in terms of a free boundary problem, the extent of the diffusion of TAF into the surrounding tissue can be monitored. Finally, by introducing a sink term representing the action of proliferating endothelial cells, the boundary of the TAF is seen to recede, and hence the position and movement of the capillaries can be indirectly followed. The changing concentration gradient observed as the boundary recedes may offer a possible explanation for the initiation of anastomosis. Several functions are considered as possible sink terms and numerical results are presented. The situation where the turnour. (i.e. the source of TAF) is removed is also considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-220
Number of pages30
JournalIMA Journal of Mathematics Applied in Medicine and Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1991


  • Angiogenesis
  • Solid tumours
  • Mathematical modelling


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