Stem cells: update and impact on craniofacial surgery

J Craniofac Surg. 2012 Jan;23(1):319-22. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0b013e318241dbaf.


With the rapidly expanding field of tissue engineering, surgeons have been eager to apply these principles to craniofacial surgery. Tissue engineering strategies combine the use of a cell type placed on a scaffold and subsequently implanted in vivo to address a tissue defect or tissue dysfunction. In this review we will discuss the current clinical need for skeletal and soft tissue engineering faced by craniofacial surgeons and subsequently we will explore cell types and scaffold designs being employed for tissue engineering treatment options. We will conclude by discussing ways to enhance the vascularity of tissue engineered constructs as this will ultimately allow for a definitive repair. Current “stem cell” options include pluripotent stem cells as well as multipotent mesenchymal cells. Biomimetic scaffolds can function to protect and enhance differentiation of stem cells by providing inductive cues. Larger scale studies including prospective, randomized control trials must be performed to determine the optimum cell delivery method and cytokine stimuli for tissue engineering driven strategies to address the clinical needs in skeletal and soft tissue reconstruction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomimetic Materials / chemistry
  • Face / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods*
  • Skull / surgery*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Stem Cells / classification
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry