Adipose Tissue - Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)
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Adipose Tissue - Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)
Harvesting Human Adipose Tissue Stem Cells – Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)
Adipose tissue is a medical term for cells that store fat. By harvesting some of the extra fat we have on our own bodies, concentrated adipose tissue can produce mesenchymal stem cells by a clinician removing the tissue and then spinning it in a specialized centrifuge for harvesting stem cells. The process removes waste products and concentrates the mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), for reinjection into the body. These stem cells then can perform their natural healing and tissue regeneration.
Researchers agree that adipose tissue is an abundant source of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which can be used for tissue engineering. Lipo-aspirated MSCs may be a superior approach for some tissue-engineering purposes due to the ease in which harvesting of the MSCs occurs.[i]
Because of the unique ability of one’s own stem cells to perform tissue engineering, procedures are more commonly being performed for a variety of clinical procedures in the USA and around the world. Some of these include:
- Orthopedic Procedures & Regeneration
- Urological Surgery
- And more…
Recently Stanford University reported the efficacy of Stem Cells on stroke victims. In some of these patients, the reversal of damaged brain tissue occurred. In June of 2016, Stanford declares stem cells as safe and beneficial for chronic stroke victims. A patient who lost movement in her right arm and leg, regained her movement after stem cells were injected into her brain.
The difficulty most non-medical professionals have in understanding stem cells is that they are a natural part of the body’s own healing process. Whenever we suffer an injury, our bodies were designed to heal themselves. As we age, and perhaps due to lifestyle, our healing capacity diminishes. The beauty of stem cell procedures is we can take our own healing stem cells, concentrate them, and reintroduce them to injury sites for more effective healing capacity.
Stem Cells are being used internationally on a wide-scale basis. Because stem cells are natural, regulators have found it difficult in the USA to find a balance between limiting access to life-enhancing stem cell procedures, and access to care.
Stem Cell Quality – Adipose Stem Cells versus Bone Marrow
There is a common misconception within the medical community about which stem cell harvesting technique produces the highest quality and quantity of stem cells most effective at regenerating injury for varying different tissue lineages. For instance, some physicians may recommend adipose-derived stem cells for soft tissue injuries, while others recommend bone marrow-derived stem cells for bone degeneration.
At face value, the main arguments are based more on opinion related to the number of stem cells. However, researchers are learning more every day that stem cells actually work and adapt based on a series of very complex molecular reactions in the body. In fact, in vitro, and in vivo differences exist, so this makes it extremely important for researchers and clinicians alike to take into consideration not only the stem cell aspects but also the host environment of the patient where these stem cells are being introduced. The complete regeneration cascade is dependent on so many factors, solely basing it on how stem cells are derived is not always the most important part of the equation in vivo.
Mesenchymal stem cells are really a combination of cells or molecules that produce a chemical cascade of physiological reactions based on the environment in which they are active. Essentially, more than just MSC quantity, other factors including inflammation in the host, micro-RNA messenger molecules, and other metabolic factors all play a role in the complex healing cascade of the human body.
In general, stem cells seem to innately adapt to the environment in which they are placed, and they tend to home to the area of injury and inflammation. But that alone is no guarantee to the predictability of efficacy, which is extremely variable, based on other factors identified above.
The chart below shows a comparison of stem cells derived from different tissue samples.[ii]
This relative comparison along with the quality of the health of the patient (host environment) brings rise to the importance of harvesting stem cells correctly, processing the cells properly, and then transplanting them into the body correctly.
Nevertheless, perhaps too much emphasis is currently placed on stem cell quantity and quality and far too little attention focusing on the host’s (patient’s) metabolic health condition, including the microvascular environment in which the stem cells are being introduced.
Stem Cell Fitness – The Search for the Most & Best
The chart below shows stem cell density taken from marrow over various age groups. As one can see, by the time we reach our teens, we’ve lost 80%-90% of our stem cells (MSCs) due to aging. This has led some clinicians and researchers to concentrate too much on the “more cells are better” approach. That is, we need younger stem cells from embryos or from the discarded cord and placenta tissue donated from newborn births. Arguably, this will impact MSCs regenerative capacity, but one could argue even teens on average have significantly high levels of regenerative capacity, so we shouldn’t arbitrarily rule out harvesting and concentration of autologous stem cells even from older adults.
Stem Cell Fitness MSC Chart[i]
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[i] Chart adapted from Caplan, AI. 2007. Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Tissue Engineering Versus Regenerative Medicine: Journal of Cellular Physiology.
[i] Screml S. et. al. Cytotherapy 2009
[ii] Chart adapted from Comparison of Human Stem Cells Derived From Various Mesenchymal Tissues, Arthritis & Rheumatism Vol. 52, No. 8, Yusuke Sakaguchi, Ichiro Sekiya, et.al. 2005
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