The ability to generate controlled amounts of adipose tissue would greatly ease the burden on hospitals for reconstructive surgery. We have previously shown that a tissue engineering chamber containing a vascular pedicle was capable of forming new fat; however, further refinements are required to enhance fat formation. The development and maintenance of engineered adipose tissue requires a suitable source of growth factors and a suitable scaffold. A hydrogel derived from adipose tissue may fulfil this need. Subcutaneous fat was processed into a thermosensitive hydrogel we refer to as adipose-derived matrix (ADM). Protein analysis revealed high levels of basement membrane proteins, collagens and detectable levels of growth factors. Adipose-derived stem cells exposed to this hydrogel differentiated into adipocytes with >90% efficiency and in vivo testing in rats showed significant signs of adipogenesis after 8 weeks. ADM's adipogenic properties combined with its simple gelation, relatively long shelf life and its tolerance to multiple freeze-thaw cycles, makes it a promising candidate for adipose engineering applications.
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