Growth dynamics of breast cancer stem cells: effects of self-feedback and EMT mechanisms

Liuyong Pang, Sanhong Liu, Zhong Zhao, Tianhai Tian, Xinan Zhang, Qiuying Li

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) with the ability to self-renew and differentiate have been identified in primary breast cancer tissues and cell lines. The BCSCs are often resistant to traditional radiation and/or chemotherapies. Previous studies have also shown that successful therapy must eradicate cancer stem cells. The purpose of this paper is to develop a mathematical model with self-feedback mechanism to illustrate the issues regarding the difficulties of absolutely eliminating a breast cancer. In addition, we introduce the mechanism of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) to investigate the influence of EMT on the effects of breast cancer growth and treatment. Results indicate that the EMT mechanism facilitates the growth of breast cancer and makes breast cancer more difficult to be cured. Therefore, targeting the signals involved in EMT can halt tumor progression in breast cancer. Finally, we apply the experimental data to carry out numerical simulations and validate our theoretical conclusions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297–311
Number of pages15
JournalTheory in Biosciences
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2022


  • Breast cancer stem cells
  • Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Numerical simulations
  • Self-feedback

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