There is a persistent controversy regarding the frequency of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in solid tumors. Initial studies indicated that these cells had a frequency ranging from 0.0001% to 0.1% of total cells. Recent studies have shown that this does not seem to be always the case. Some of these studies have indicated a frequency of 40%. Through a simple population dynamics model, we studied the effects of stochastic noise and cellular plasticity in the minimal path size of a cancer stem cells population, similar to what is done in what is sometimes called the Kierstead–Skellam–Slobodkin (KISS) Size analysis. We show that the possibility of large variations in the results obtained in the experiments may be a consequence of the different conditions under which the different experiments are submitted, specifically regarding the effective cell niche size where stem cells are transplanted. We also show the possibility of a noise induced transition where the stationary probability distribution of the CSC
population can present bimodality.
Category: Quantitative Biology