Spatial moment dynamics for collective cell movement incorporating a neighbour-dependent directional bias
The ability of cells to undergo collective movement plays a fundamental role in tissue repair, development and cancer. Interactions occurring at the level of individual cells may lead to the development of spatial structure which will affect the dynamics of migrating cells at a population level. Models that try to predict population-level behaviour often take a mean-field approach, which assumes that individuals interact with one another in proportion to their average density and ignores the presence of any small-scale spatial structure. In this work, we develop a lattice-free individual- based model (IBM) that uses random walk theory to model the stochastic interactions occurring at the scale of individual migrating cells. We incorporate a mechanism for local directional bias such that an individual's direction of movement is dependent on the degree of cell crowding in its neighbourhood. As an alternative to the mean-field approach, we also employ spatial moment theory to develop a population-level model which accounts for spatial structure and predicts how these individual-level interactions propagate to the scale of the whole population. The IBM is used to derive an equation for dynamics of the second spatial moment (the average density of pairs of cells) which incorporates the neighbour-dependent directional bias and we solve this numerically for a spatially homogeneous case.