Cell-based therapies such as tissue engineering provide promising therapeutic possibilities to enhance the repair or regeneration of damaged or diseased tissues but are dependent on the availability and controlled manipulation of appropriate cell sources.
The goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that adult subcutaneous fat contains stem cells with multilineage potential and to determine the influence of specific soluble mediators and biomaterial scaffolds on their differentiation into musculoskeletal phenotypes.
We reviewed recent studies showing the stem-like characteristics and multipotency of adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs), and their potential application in cell-based therapies in orthopaedics.
Under controlled conditions, ASCs show phenotypic characteristics of various cell types, including chondrocytes, osteoblasts, adipocytes, neuronal cells, or muscle cells. In particular, the chondrogenic differentiation of ASCs can be induced by low oxygen tension, growth factors such as bone morphogenetic protein-6 (BMP-6), or biomaterial scaffolds consisting of native tissue matrices derived from cartilage. Finally, focus is given to the development of a functional biomaterial scaffold that can provide ASC-based constructs with mechanical properties similar to native cartilage.
Adipose tissue contains an abundant source of multipotent progenitor cells. These cells show cell surface marker profiles and differentiation characteristics that are similar to but distinct from other adult stem cells, such as bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).
The availability of an easily accessible and reproducible cell source may greatly facilitate the development of new cell-based therapies for regenerative medicine applications in the musculoskeletal system.