Clinical Perspectives

Intratumoral Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics at Work in Dysfunctional Vascular Architecture

June 25, 2018


Normal, progressive maturation of blood vessels results in an organized network and allows rapid and efficient hemodynamics, similar to traffic flow on a modern highway. However, tumor angiogenesis is more similar to the dynamics of villages or modern cities, in which each new household or small groups of households are constrained to build a connection with the nearest existing road or passageway regardless of their size or capacity. 

Moffitt researchers Drs. Robert Gillies, Joel Brown, Sandy Anderson, and Robert Gatenby have authored a paper analyzing these forces entitled Eco-evolutionary Causes and Consequences of Temporal Changes in Intratoumoral Blood Flow that was recently published in Nature Reviews Cancer. Their opinion posits that temporal changes in blood flow are commonly observed in malignant tumors, but the evolutionary causes and consequences are rarely considered.

The authors propose that stochastic temporal variations in blood flow and microenvironmental conditions arise from the eco-evolutionary dynamics of tumor angiogenesis in which cancer cells, as individual units of selection, can influence and respond only to local environmental conditions. The environmental changes associated with heterogeneous intratumoural blood flow, in turn, act as a strong selection force driving evolution of local cancer cell populations.

These temporal variations in intratumoral blood flow, which occur through the promotion of cancer cell phenotypes that facilitate both metastatic spread and resistance to therapy, may have substantial clinical consequences.

For more information on the Cancer Biology & Evolution program at Moffitt, click here.