We formulate a tumor-immune interaction model with a constant delay to capture the behavior following application of a dendritic cell therapy. The model is validated using experimental data from melanoma-induced mice. Through theoretical and numerical analyses, the model is shown to produce rich dynamics, such as a Hopf bifurcation and bistability. We provide thresholds for tumor existence and, in a special case, tumor elimination. Our work indicates a sensitivity in model outcomes to the immune response time. We provide a stability analysis for the high tumor equilibrium. For small delays in response, the tumor and immune system coexist at a low level. Large delays give rise to fatally high tumor levels. Our computational and theoretical work reveals that there exists an intermediate region of delay that generates complex oscillatory, even chaotic, behavior. The model then reflects uncertainty in treatment outcomes for varying initial tumor burdens, as well as tumor dormancy followed by uncontrolled growth to a lethal size, a phenomenon seen in vivo. Theoretical and computational analyses suggest efficacious treatments to use in conjunction with the dendritic cell vaccine. Additional analysis of a highly aggressive tumor additionally confirms the importance of representation with a time delay, as periodic solutions are strictly able to be generated when a delay is present.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Mathematical Physics
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Applied Mathematics