Integro-differential equations for the self-organisation of liver zones by competitive exclusion of cell-types
The Journal of the Australian Mathematical Society Series B Applied Mathematics
A model is developed for the self-organisation of zones of enzymatic activity along a liver capillary (hepatic sinusoid) lined with cells of two types, which contain different enzymes and compete for sites on the wall of the sinusoid. An effectively non-local interaction between the cells arises from local consumption of oxygen from blood flowing through the sinusoid, which gives rise to gradients of oxygen concentration in turn influencing rates of division and of death of the two cell-types.
... he two cell-types. The process is modelled by a pair of coupled non-linear integro-differential equations for the cell-densities as functions of time and position along the sinusoid. Existence of a unique, bounded, non-negative solution of the equations is proved, for prescribed initial values. The equations admit infinitely many stationary solutions, but it is shown that all except one are unstable, for any given set of the model parameters. The remaining solution is shown to be asymptotically stable against a large class of perturbations. For certain ranges of the model parameters, the asymptotically stable stationary solution has a zonal structure, with cells of one type located entirely upstream of cells of the other type, and with jump discontinuities in the cell densities at a certain distance along the sinusoid. Such sinusoidal zones can account for zones of enzymatic activity observed in the intact liver. Exceptional cases are found for singular choices of model parameters, such that stationary cell-densities cannot be asymptotically stable individually, but together form an asymptotically stable set. Certain mathematical questions are left open, notably the behaviour of large deviations from stationary solutions, and the global stability of such solutions. Possible generalisations of the model are described.