Concise Review: Using Fat to Fight Disease: A Systematic Review of Nonhomologous Adipose-Derived Stromal/Stem Cell Therapies

Stem Cells. 2018 Sep;36(9):1311-1328. doi: 10.1002/stem.2847. Epub 2018 Jul 16.


The objective of this Review is to describe the safety and efficacy of adipose stem/stromal cells (ASC) and stromal vascular fraction (SVF) in treating common diseases and the next steps in research that must occur prior to clinical use. Pubmed, Ovid Medline, Embase, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library were searched for articles about use of SVF or ASC for disease therapy published between 2012 and 2017. One meta-analysis, 2 randomized controlled trials, and 16 case series were included, representing 844 human patients. Sixty-nine studies were performed in preclinical models of disease. ASCs improved symptoms, fistula healing, remission, and recurrence rates in severe cases of inflammatory bowel disease. In osteoarthritis, ASC and SVF improved symptom-related, functional, radiographic, and histological scores. ASC and SVF were also shown to improve clinical outcomes in ischemic stroke, multiple sclerosis, myocardial ischemia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, chronic liver failure, glioblastoma, acute kidney injury, and chronic skin wounds. These effects were primarily paracrine in nature and mediated through reduction of inflammation and promotion of tissue repair. In the majority of human studies, autologous ASC and SVF from liposuction procedures were used, minimizing the risk to recipients. Very few serious, treatment-related adverse events were reported. The main adverse event was postprocedural pain. SVF and ASC are promising therapies for a variety of human diseases, particularly for patients with severe cases refractory to current medical treatments. Further randomized controlled trials must be performed to elaborate potential safety and efficacy prior to clinical use. Stem Cells 2018;36:1311-1328.

Keywords: Adipose stem/stromal cells; Adult stem cells; Autologous stem cell transplantation; Cellular therapy; Mesenchymal stem cells; Stromal vascular fraction cells; Tissue regeneration.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / transplantation*
  • Adiposity / physiology*
  • Guided Tissue Regeneration
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Transplantation Conditioning / methods*