Computational models of cancer cell transport through the microcirculation

Daniel F. Puleri, Peter Balogh, Amanda Randles

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The transport of cancerous cells through the microcirculation during metastatic spread encompasses several interdependent steps that are not fully understood. Computational models which resolve the cellular-scale dynamics of complex microcirculatory flows offer considerable potential to yield needed insights into the spread of cancer as a result of the level of detail that can be captured. In recent years, in silico methods have been developed that can accurately and efficiently model the circulatory flows of cancer and other biological cells. These computational methods are capable of resolving detailed fluid flow fields which transport cells through tortuous physiological geometries, as well as the deformation and interactions between cells, cell-to-endothelium interactions, and tumor cell aggregates, all of which play important roles in metastatic spread. Such models can provide a powerful complement to experimental works, and a promising approach to recapitulating the endogenous setting while maintaining control over parameters such as shear rate, cell deformability, and the strength of adhesive binding to better understand tumor cell transport. In this review, we present an overview of computational models that have been developed for modeling cancer cells in the microcirculation, including insights they have provided into cell transport phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1209-1230
Number of pages22
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • Cancer cells
  • Circulating tumor cell
  • Computational modeling
  • Fluid structure interaction


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