A two-dimensional continuum model of collective cell migration is used to predict the closure of gaps in intestinal epithelial cell layers. The model assumes that cell migration is governed by lamellipodia formation, cell-cell adhesion, and cell-substrate adhesion. Model predictions of the gap edge position and complete gap closure time are compared with experimental measures from cell layer scratch assays (also called scratch wound assays). The goal of the study is to combine experimental observations with mathematical descriptions of cell motion to identify effects of gap shape and area on closure time and to propose a method that uses a simple measure (e.g., area) to predict overall gap closure time early in the closure process. Gap closure time is shown to increase linearly with increasing gap area; however, gaps of equal areas but different aspect ratios differ greatly in healing time. Previous methods that calculate overall healing time according to the absolute or percent change in gap area assume that the gap area changes at a constant rate and typically underestimate gap closure time. In this study, data from scratch assays suggest that the rate of change of area is proportional to the first power or square root power of area.
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