Drug-induced resistance in micrometastases: analysis of spatio-temporal cell lineages
AbstractResistance to anti-cancer drugs is a major cause of treatment failure. While several intracellular mechanisms of resistance have been postulated, the role of extrinsic factors in the development of resistance in individual tumor cells is still not fully understood. Here we used a hybrid agent-based model to investigate how sensitive tumor cells develop drug resistance in the heterogeneous tumor microenvironment. We characterized the spatio-temporal evolution of lineages of the resistant
... es of the resistant cells and examined how resistance at the single-cell level contributes to the overall tumor resistance. We also developed new methods to track tumor cell adaptation, to trace cell viability trajectories and to examine the three-dimensional spatio-temporal lineage trees. Our findings indicate that drug-induced resistance can result from cells adaptation to the changes in drug distribution. Two modes of cell adaptation were identified that coincide with microenvironmental niches—areas sheltered by cell micro-communities (protectorates) or regions with limited drug penetration (refuga or sanctuaries). We also recognized that certain cells gave rise to lineages of resistant cells (precursors of resistance) and pinpointed three temporal periods and spatial locations at which such cells emerged. This supports the hypothesis that tumor micrometastases do not need to harbor cell populations with pre-existing resistance, but that individual tumor cells can adapt and develop resistance induced by the drug during the treatment.