Mathematical modelling as a tool to understand cell self-renewal and differentiation
Mathematical modeling is a powerful technique to address key questions and paradigms in a variety of complex biological systems and can provide quantitative insights into cell kinetics, fate determination and development of cell populations. The chapter is devoted to a review of modeling of the dynamics of stem cell-initiated systems using mathematical methods of ordinary differential equations. Some basic concepts and tools for cell population dynamics are summarized and presented as a gentle introduction to non-mathematicians. The models take into account different plausible mechanisms regulating homeostasis. Two mathematical frameworks are proposed reflecting, respectively, a discrete (punctuated by division events) and a continuous character of transitions between differentiation stages. Advantages and constraints of the mathematical approaches are presented on examples of models of blood systems and compared to patients data on healthy hematopoiesis.