Therapeutic application of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) requires their extensive in vitro expansion. MSC in culture typically grow to confluence within a few weeks. They show spindle-shaped fibroblastoid morphology and align to each other in characteristic spatial patterns at high cell density. We present an individual cell-based model (IBM) that is able to quantitatively describe the spatio-temporal organization of MSC in culture. Our model substantially improves on previous models by explicitly representing cell podia and their dynamics. It employs podia-generated forces for cell movement and adjusts cell behavior in response to cell density. At the same time, it is simple enough to simulate thousands of cells with reasonable computational effort. Experimental sheep MSC cultures were monitored under standard conditions. Automated image analysis was used to determine the location and orientation of individual cells. Our simulations quantitatively reproduced the observed growth dynamics and cell-cell alignment assuming cell density-dependent proliferation, migration, and morphology. In addition to cell growth on plain substrates our model captured cell alignment on micro-structured surfaces. We propose a specific surface micro-structure that according to our simulations can substantially enlarge cell culture harvest. The 'tool box' of cell migratory behavior newly introduced in this study significantly enhances the bandwidth of IBM. Our approach is capable of accommodating individual cell behavior and collective cell dynamics of a variety of cell types and tissues in computational systems biology.
Hoffmann, M., Kuska, J-P., Zscharnack, M., Loeffler, M., & Galle, J. (2011). Spatial Organization of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Vitro - results from a new individual-cell based model with podia. PLOS ONE, 6(7), [e21960]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0021960