Fat tissue: an underappreciated source of stem cells for biotechnology

Trends Biotechnol. 2006 Apr;24(4):150-4. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2006.01.010. Epub 2006 Feb 20.


Adipose tissue can be harvested in large amounts with minimal morbidity. It contains numerous cells types, including adipocytes, preadipocytes, vascular endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells; it also contains cells that have the ability to differentiate into several lineages, such as fat, bone, cartilage, skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscle, endothelium, hematopoietic cells, hepatocytes and neuronal cells. Cloning studies have shown that some adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) have multilineage differentiation potential. ADSCs are also capable of expressing multiple growth factors, including vascular endothelial growth factor and hepatocyte growth factor. Early, uncontrolled, non-randomized clinical research, applying fresh adipose-derived cells into a cranial defect or undifferentiated ADSCs into fistulas in Crohn's disease, has shown healing and an absence of side effects. The combination of these properties, and the large quantity of cells that can be obtained from fat, suggests that this tissue will be a useful tool in biotechnology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology*
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Separation
  • Humans
  • Stem Cells / cytology*