Journal of Theoretical Medicine
Volume 6 (2005), Issue 1, Pages 21-31

Cancer Cell Invasion of Brain Tissue: Guided by a Prepattern?

1Center for High Performance Computing, Dresden University of Technology D-01062, Dresden, Germany
2Department of Neurosurgery, Medical Center, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

Received 2 August 2004; Accepted 29 November 2004

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The malignant brain tumour Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) displays a highly invasive behaviour. Spreading of the malignant cells appears to be guided by the white matter fibre tracts within the brain. In order to understand the global growth process we introduce a lattice-gas cellular automaton model which describes the local interaction between individual malignant cells and their neighbourhood. We consider interactions between cells (brain cells and tumour cells) and between malignant cells and the fibre tracts in the brain, which are considered as a prepattern. The prepattern implies persistent individual cell motion along the fibre structure. Simulations with the model show that only the inclusion of the prepattern results in invading tumour and growing tumour islets in front of the expanding tumour bulk (i.e. the growth pattern observed in clinical practice). Our results imply that the infiltrative growth of GBMs is, in part, determined by the physical structure of the surrounding brain rather than by intrinsic properties of the tumour cells.