Statistical and mathematical modeling are crucial to describe, interpret, compare and predict the behavior of complex biological systems including the organization of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in the bone marrow environment. The current prominence of high-resolution and live-cell imaging data provides an unprecedented opportunity to study the spatiotemporal dynamics of these cells within their stem cell niche and learn more about aberrant, but also unperturbed, normal hematopoiesis. However, this requires careful quantitative statistical analysis of the spatial and temporal behavior of cells and the interaction with their microenvironment. Moreover, such quantification is a prerequisite for the construction of hypothesis-driven mathematical models that can provide mechanistic explanations by generating spatiotemporal dynamics that can be directly compared to experimental observations. Here, we provide a brief overview of statistical methods in analyzing spatial distribution of cells, cell motility, cell shapes and cellular genealogies. We also describe cell- based modeling formalisms that allow researchers to simulate emergent behavior in a multicellular system based on a set of hypothesized mechanisms. Together, these methods provide a quantitative workflow for the analytic and synthetic study of the spatiotemporal behavior of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells.
Methods in Molecular Biology, Springer Protocols, Humana Press, 2018 (in press). arXiv preprint arXiv:1809.01708,