Modeling the dynamics of oligodendrocyte precursor cells and the genesis of gliomas

Dufour A, Gontran E, Deroulers C, Varlet P, Pallud J, Grammaticos B, Badoual M.

Gliomas are the most common brain tumors and result in more years of life lost than any other tumor. Standard treatments only confer a limited improvement in overall survival, underscoring the need for new therapies. Finding the type of cells at the origin of these tumors could lead to the development of new drugs, specifically targeted towards these cells. The oligodendrocyte precursor cells are suspected to be these cells of origin, because they continue to proliferate through all the adult life. In this article, we present a model of the dynamics of these cells, first in the normal brain, and then we extrapolate our model to the pathological situation. We study several scenarios where, from the normal situation, a cell appears with one property different from those of the normal cells. We show that the alteration of only one of the properties of these cells in the model can lead to the formation of gliomas with different aggressiveness and very similar to real gliomas, reinforcing the suspicion that the precursor cells are at the origin of gliomas.