Introduction: In the past decade human adipose tissue has been identified as a source of multipotent stem cells. Adipose tissue derived stem cells (ASCs) are characterised by immunosuppressive properties and low immunogenicity. Therefore, they can be used in regenerative medicine, as well as applied to induce graft tolerance or prevent autoimmunity. ASCs can be easily harvested with low morbidity, which is their main advantage over mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from other sources.
Areas covered: The review focuses on reported clinical applications of ASCs and discusses technical approaches of their isolation and processing. The differences in phenotype and differentiation preferences between ASCs and other MSCs that may affect the choice of a particular cell type for the future therapy are also described.
Expert opinion: ASCs seem to be the perfect tool for regenerative medicine and immunosuppressive cellular therapies. Nevertheless, there are some tasks that should be addressed by the future studies: i) ASCs require better characterisation; a set of markers determining ASCs should be clearly defined; ii) there is need for more studies on safety of reconstructive therapies with ASCs in cancer patients (e.g., after mastectomy); iii) release criteria should be determined for freshly isolated and ex vivo expanded ASCs designed for clinical applications.