CD34+CD146+ adipose-derived stromal cells enhance engraftment of transplanted fat

Stem Cells Transl Med. 2020 Nov;9(11):1389-1400. doi: 10.1002/sctm.19-0195. Epub 2020 Jun 15.


Fat grafting is a surgical technique able to reconstruct and regenerate soft tissue. The adipose-derived stromal cells (ASCs) within the stromal vascular fraction are believed to drive these beneficial effects. ASCs are increasingly recognized to be a heterogeneous group, comprised of multiple stem and progenitor subpopulations with distinct functions. We hypothesized the existence of an ASC subpopulation with enhanced angiogenic potential. Human ASCs that were CD34+CD146+, CD34+CD146-, or CD34+ unfractionated (UF) were isolated by flow cytometry for comparison of expression of proangiogenic factors and endothelial tube-forming potential. Next, lipoaspirate was enriched with either CD34+CD146+, CD34+CD146-, CD34+ UF ASCs, or was not enriched, and grafted beneath the scalp skin of immunodeficient CD-1 Nude mice (10 000 cells/200 μL/graft). Fat retention was monitored radiographically more than 8 weeks and fat grafts were harvested for histological assessment of quality and vascularization. The CD34+CD146+ subpopulation comprised ~30% of ASCs, and exhibited increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor and angiopoietin-1 compared to CD34+CD146- and CD34+ UF ASCs, and increased expression of fibroblast growth factor-2 compared to CD34+CD146- ASCs. The CD34+CD146+ subpopulation exhibited enhanced induction of tube-formation compared to CD34+CD146- ASCs. Upon transplantation, fat enriched CD34+CD146+ ASCs underwent less resorption and had improved histologic quality and vascularization. We have identified a subpopulation of CD34+ ASCs with enhanced angiogenic effects in vitro and in vivo, likely mediated by increased expression of potent proangiogenic factors. These findings suggest that enriching lipoaspirate with CD34+CD146+ ASCs may enhance fat graft vascularization and retention in the clinical setting.

Keywords: adipose-derived stromal cell; autologous fat grafting; lipoaspirate; proangiogenic; regeneration; regenerative; retention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / transplantation*
  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism*
  • CD146 Antigen / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism*


  • Antigens, CD34
  • CD146 Antigen