The therapeutic effect of adipose-derived stem cells on soft tissue injury after radiotherapy and their value for breast reconstruction

Stem Cell Res Ther. 2022 Oct 4;13(1):493. doi: 10.1186/s13287-022-02952-7.


Background: Postmastectomy radiotherapy is considered to be a necessary treatment in the therapy of breast cancer, while it will cause soft tissue damage and complications, which are closely related to the success rate and effectiveness of breast reconstruction. After radiotherapy, cutaneous tissue becomes thin and brittle, and its compliance decreases. Component fat grafting and adipose-derived stem cell therapy are considered to have great potential in treating radiation damage and improving skin compliance after radiotherapy.

Main body: In this paper, the basic types and pathological mechanisms of skin and soft tissue damage to breast skin caused by radiation therapy are described. The 2015-2021 studies related to stem cell therapy in PubMed were also reviewed. Studies suggest that adipose-derived stem cells exert their biological effects mainly through cargoes carried in extracellular vesicles and soluble secreted factors. Compared to traditional fat graft breast reconstruction, ADSC therapy amplifies the effects of stem cells in it. In order to obtain a more purposeful therapeutic effect, proper stem cell pretreatment may achieve more ideal and safe results.

Conclusion: Recent research works about ADSCs and other MSCs mainly focus on curative effects in the acute phase of radiation injury, and there is little research about treatment of chronic phase complications. The efficacy of stem cell therapy on alleviating skin fibrosis and its underlying mechanism require further research.

Keywords: Adipose-derived stem cells; Breast cancer; Breast reconstruction; Postmastectomy radiotherapy; Stem cell therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty* / methods
  • Mastectomy
  • Soft Tissue Injuries* / metabolism
  • Soft Tissue Injuries* / surgery
  • Stem Cells / metabolism