Bone tissue engineering represents one of the most challenging emergent fields for scientists and clinicians. Current failures of autografts and allografts in many pathological conditions have prompted researchers to find new biomaterials able to promote bone repair or regeneration with specific characteristics of biocompatibility, biodegradability and osteoinductivity. Recent advancements for tissue regeneration in bone defects have occurred by following the diamond concept and combining the use of growth factors and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). In particular, a more abundant and easily accessible source of MSCs was recently discovered in adipose tissue. These adipose stem cells (ASCs) can be obtained in large quantities with little donor site morbidity or patient discomfort, in contrast to the invasive and painful isolation of bone marrow MSCs. The osteogenic potential of ASCs on scaffolds has been examined in cell cultures and animal models, with only a few cases reporting the use of ASCs for successful reconstruction or accelerated healing of defects of the skull and jaw in patients. Although these reports extend our limited knowledge concerning the use of ASCs for osseous tissue repair and regeneration, the lack of standardization in applied techniques makes the comparison between studies difficult. Additional clinical trials are needed to assess ASC therapy and address potential ethical and safety concerns, which must be resolved to permit application in regenerative medicine.
Keywords: Adipose-derived stem cells; Bone tissue engineering; Osteogenic differentiation; Regenerative medicine; Scaffold.