Effect of Breast Cancer and Adjuvant Therapy on Adipose-Derived Stromal Cells: Implications for the Role of ADSCs in Regenerative Strategies for Breast Reconstruction

Stem Cell Rev Rep. 2021 Apr;17(2):523-538. doi: 10.1007/s12015-020-10038-1. Epub 2020 Sep 14.


Tissue engineering using Adipose Derived Stromal Cells (ADSCs) has emerged as a novel regenerative medicine approach to replace and reconstruct soft tissue damaged or lost as a result of disease process or therapeutic surgical resection. ADSCs are an attractive cell source for soft tissue regeneration due to the fact that they are easily accessible, multipotent, non-immunogenic and pro-angiogenic. ADSC based regenerative strategies have been successfully translated to the clinical setting for the treatment of Crohn's fistulae, musculoskeletal pathologies, wound healing, and cosmetic breast augmentation (fat grafting). ADSCs are particularly attractive as a source for adipose tissue engineering as they exhibit preferential differentiation to adipocytes and support maintenance of mature adipose graft volume. The potential for reconstruction with an autologous tissue sources and a natural appearance and texture is particularly appealing in the setting of breast cancer; up to 40% of patients require mastectomy for locoregional control and current approaches to post-mastectomy breast reconstruction (PMBR) are limited by the potential for complications at the donor and reconstruction sites. Despite their potential, the use of ADSCs in breast cancer patients is controversial due to concerns regarding oncological safety. These concerns relate to the regeneration of tissue at a site where a malignancy has been treated and the impact this may have on stimulating local disease recurrence or dissemination. Pre-clinical data suggest that ADSCs exhibit pro-oncogenic characteristics and are involved in stimulating progression, and growth of tumour cells. However, there have been conflicting reports on the oncologic outcome, in terms of locoregional recurrence, for breast cancer patients in whom ADSC enhanced fat grafting was utilised as an alternative to reconstruction for small volume defects. A further consideration which may impact the successful translation of ADSC based regenerative strategies for post cancer reconstruction is the potential effects of cancer therapy. This review aims to address the effect of malignant cells, adjuvant therapies and patient-specific factors that may influence the success of regenerative strategies using ADSCs for post cancer tissue regeneration.

Keywords: Adipose-derived stromal cells; Breast cancer; Breast reconstruction; Chemotherapy; Host factors.

Publication types

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