An agent-based and FE approach to simulate cell jamming and collective motion in epithelial layers

Authored by Ismael Gonzalez-Valverde, Garcia-Aznar Jose Manuel

Date Published: 2019

DOI: 10.1007/s40571-018-0199-2

Sponsors: European Research Council (ERC)

Platforms: No platforms listed

Model Documentation: Mathematical description Other Narrative

Model Code URLs: Model code not found


The collective cell motion in epithelial layers is still poorly understood, despite this phenomenon being fundamental to explain several biological processes. Indeed, it has been experimentally observed that epithelial cells can behave either as a fluid or as a solid in the tissue. The transition between both states is related to cell-cell adhesions and cell morphology. In fact, cell motility can be limited by the interaction with its neighboring cells. Moreover, cells can even enter in a frozen state, and in that case, the system behaves as a solid. However, this state is reversible under certain circumstances, and cells may return to a fluidized state. This phenomenon is known as cell jamming. Here, we propose a hybrid approach that couples a discrete agent-based model and a continuum finite element-based model to simulate cell dynamics and cell jamming in epithelial monolayers. Our hybrid approach is able to simulate cell motion individually, but it also reproduces the mechanical properties at tissue level that emerge from cell-cell interactions. This study helps to understand how cell-cell interactions regulate the cell jamming phenomenon and provides a deeper insight into the role of the passive mechanics in collective cell motion.
Migration emergence Dynamics mechanics Cell mechanics Hybrid model Tissue mechanics finite element method