Model of diffusion of oxygen to spheroids grown in stationary medium —I. Complete spherical symmetry

Research paper by A. J. Franko, H. I. Freedman

Indexed on: 01 Mar '84Published on: 01 Mar '84Published in: Bulletin of Mathematical Biology


The use of spheroids as a tumor model has become commonplace since it was discovered that many cell lines can form spheroids when grown on a surface to which the cells cannot attach. This culture system complicates experiments which depend on oxygen supply because the oxygen concentration in the vicinity of a stationary spheroid has not been well defined. We present in this paper solutions to the oxygen diffusion equation for simple geometries: a spheroid in an infinite stationary medium and in a finite spherical stationary medium. Comparison of these solutions provides an estimate of the oxygen supply to a spheroid in a Petri dish. We show that typical spheroids can be expected to cause a substantial depletion of the oxygen in the nearby medium. Any disturbance of the medium or the spheroids will temporarily increase the oxygen supply. We provide a method for estimating the rate of return to equilibrium in the finite cases. These results indicate that the oxygen supply to stationary spheroids can be altered temporarily by small movements or changes in temperature which cause convection currents, or permanently by changes in the depth of the medium.