Adipose Derived Stromal Cell (ADSC) Injections for Pain Management of Osteoarthritis in the Human Knee Joint

Aesthet Surg J. 2016 Feb;36(2):229-36. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjv135. Epub 2015 Aug 3.


Background: This safety and feasibility study used autologous adipose-derived stromal vascular cells (the stromal vascular fraction [SVF] of adipose tissue), to treat 8 osteoarthritic knees in 6 patients of grade I to III (K-L scale) with initial pain of 4 or greater on a 10-point Visual Analog Scale (VAS).

Objectives: The primary objective of the study was evaluation of the safety of intra-articular injection of SVF. The secondary objective was to assess initial feasibility for reduction of pain in osteoarthritic knees.

Methods: Adipose-derived SVF cells were obtained through enzymatic disaggregation of lipoaspirate, resuspension in 3 mL of Lactated Ringer's Solution, and injection directly into the intra-articular space of the knee, with a mean of 14.1 million viable, nucleated SVF cells per knee. Metrics included monitoring of adverse events and preoperative to postoperative changes in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC), the VAS pain scale, range of motion (ROM), timed up-and-go (TUG), and MRI.

Results: No infections, acute pain flares, or other adverse events were reported. At 3-months postoperative, there was a statistically significant improvement in WOMAC and VAS scores (P < .02 and P < .001, respectively), which was maintained at 1 year. Physical therapy measurements for ROM and TUG both improved from preoperative to 3-months postoperative. Standard MRI assessment from preoperative to 3-months postoperative showed no detectable structural differences. All patients attained full activity with decreased knee pain.

Conclusions: Autologous SVF was shown to be safe and to present a new potential therapy for reduction of pain for osteoarthritis of the knee. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE 4: Therapeutic.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Adipose Tissue / transplantation*
  • Aged
  • Arthralgia / diagnosis
  • Arthralgia / physiopathology
  • Arthralgia / surgery*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology
  • Knee Joint / surgery*
  • Lipectomy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnosis
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / surgery*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pilot Projects
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Recovery of Function
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stromal Cells / transplantation*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome