Systems Biology of Tumor Dormancy

Volume 734 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 111-143


Multifaceted Kinetics of Immuno-Evasion from Tumor Dormancy

  • Alberto d’OnofrioAffiliated withDepartment of Experimental Oncology, European Institute of Oncology Email author 

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Tumor progression is subject to modulation by the immune system. The immune system can eliminate tumors or keep them at a dormant equilibrium size, while some tumors escape immunomodulation and advance to malignancy. Herein, we discuss some aspects of immune evasion of dormant tumors from a theoretical biophysics point of view that can be modeled mathematically. We go on to analyze the mathematical system on multiple timescales. First, we consider a long timescale where tumor evasion is likely due to adaptive (and somewhat deterministic) immuno-editing. Then, we consider the temporal mesoscale and hypothesize that extrinsic noise could be a major factor in induction of immuno-evasion. Implications of immuno-evasive mechanisms for the outcome of immunotherapies are also discussed. In addition, we discuss the ideas that population level tumor dormancy may not be a quiescence phenomenon and that dormant tumors can, at least if modulated by the immune system, live a very active and noisy life!


Tumor dormancy Immune system Immuno-evasion Immuno-editing Systems biomedicine