Mesenchymal stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for perianal Crohn's fistulas refractory to conventional therapy, which are an extremely morbid complication and a true therapeutic challenge. Autologous adipose-derived stromal vascular fraction (ADSVF) is an easily accessible source of cells with angiogenic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and regenerative properties. Here, we describe a case involving a patient with severe perianal Crohn's fistulas refractory to the best medical and surgical practices who received local treatment with ADSVF and microfat. This patient was first examined under anesthesia with drainage via seton placement; 1 week later, on a single day, he underwent adipose tissue extraction, ADSVF and microfat preparation, and the local injection of 14 ml of microfat and approximately 20 million viable ADSVF cells into the soft tissue around the fistulas. No serious adverse events were observed. At the first endpoint at 12 weeks, the fistula had clinically healed with complete re-epithelialization of all external openings; no fistula tract was detected on magnetic resonance imaging, confirming this finding. This good clinical outcome was sustained at 48 weeks and was associated with a reduction in the severity of perianal disease and an improvement in quality of life. The current case highlights the therapeutic potential of a new cellular treatment for Crohn's patients with refractory perianal fistulas based on the innovative hypothesis that the combined action of ADSVF in association with the trophic characteristics of a microfat graft could be beneficial for this condition.
Trial registration: EudraCT number 201325, NCT02520843 . Registered on 5 August 2015.