Numerical study of cancer cell invasion dynamics using adaptive mesh refinement: the urokinase model

Niklas Kolbe, Jana Katuchova, Nikolaos Sfakianakis, Nadja Hellmann, Maria Lukacova-Medvidova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the present work we investigate the chemotactically and proteolytically driven tissue invasion by cancer cells. The model employed is a system of advection-reaction-diffusion equations that features the role of the serine protease urokinase-type plasminogen activator. The analytical and numerical study of this system constitutes a challenge due to the merging, emerging, and travelling concentrations that the solutions exhibit. Classical numerical methods applied to this system necessitate very fine discretization grids to resolve these dynamics in an accurate way. To reduce the computational cost without sacrificing the accuracy of the solution, we apply adaptive mesh refinement techniques, in particular h-refinement. Extended numerical experiments exhibit that this approach provides with a higher order, stable, and robust numerical method for this system. We elaborate on several mesh refinement criteria and compare the results with the ones in the literature. We prove, for a simpler version of this model, $L^\infty$ bounds for the solutions, we study the stability of its conditional steady states, and conclude that it can serve as a test case for further development of mesh refinement techniques for cancer invasion simulations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Mathematics and Computation
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2014


  • Mathematics - Numerical Analysis
  • Quantitative Biology - Cell Behavior
  • 92B05
  • 35Q92
  • 65M08
  • 65M50


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