There is a clear clinical need for cell therapies to repair or regenerate tissue lost to disease or trauma. Adipose tissue is a renewable source of stem cells, called adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs), that release important growth factors for wound healing, modulate the immune system, decrease inflammation, and home in on injured tissues. Therefore, ASCs may offer great clinical utility in regenerative therapies for afflictions such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injury, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, or for replacing lost tissue from trauma or tumor removal. This article discusses the regenerative properties of ASCs that can be harnessed for clinical applications, and explores current and future challenges for ASC clinical use. Such challenges include knowledge-based deficiencies, hurdles for translating research to the clinic, and barriers to establishing a new paradigm of medical care. Clinical experience with ASCs, ASCs as a portion of the heterogeneous stromal cell population extracted enzymatically from adipose tissue, and stromal vascular fraction are also described.
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