History of Adipose Stromal Cells

Within the last decade, adipose tissue has gained popularity as the best source of cells for regenerative medicine applications. Adipose is not only a rich cell source, but also an abundant, “accessory” and easily accessible tissue sample.

The first enzymatic dissociation of adipose tissue occurred in the 1960s, with the aim of obtaining a single cell suspension of adipocytes to better study their physiology and metabolism. Over the next couple of decades, various authors contributed to the characterization of different cell types, such as preadipocytes and microvascular endothelial cells, promising huge potential for the nascent field of tissue engineering. It wasn’t until the turn of the century (2001) that a published article claimed adipose tissue contained progenitor cells with the ability to differentiate into different cell types. Fat was later confirmed as a novel and abundant source of mesenchymal stem cells.

Nowadays, the isolation of stromal vascular fraction cells (SVF) from adipose, which comprises a heterogeneous population of freshly isolated cells released from the tissue stroma and including mesenchymal stem cells, is considered the closest pathway to human clinical applications. This research is supported by the existence of a variety of preclinical animal studies, published case reports and the growing registration of different human clinical trials using this cell population. Furthermore, as determined in many scientific studies, these cells exert their therapeutic functions mainly by releasing growth factors, regulating the immune response and promoting angiogenesis in the implantation site.

The website clinicaltrials.gov collects all registered human clinical trials using adipose derived SVF cells. There exist ongoing clinical trials using human SVF cells for a wide range of human clinical conditions: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, pulmonary fibrosis, critical limb ischemia and SVF enriched fat grafting, to name a few. All of these studies provide evidence for the growing interest in cell therapies based on adipose derived SVF.

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