Adipose Tissue and Mesenchymal Stem Cells: State of the Art and Lipogems® Technology Development
In the past few years, interest in adipose tissue as an ideal source of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has increased. These cells are multipotent and may differentiate in vitro into several cellular lineages, such as adipocytes, chondrocytes, osteoblasts, and myoblasts. In addition, they secrete many bioactive molecules and thus are considered “mini-drugstores.” MSCs are being used increasingly for many clinical applications, such as orthopedic, plastic, and reconstructive surgery. Adipose-derived MSCs are routinely obtained enzymatically from fat lipoaspirate as SVF and/or may undergo prolonged ex vivo expansion, with significant senescence and a decrease in multipotency, leading to unsatisfactory clinical results. Moreover, these techniques are hampered by complex regulatory issues. Therefore, an innovative technique (Lipogems®; Lipogems International SpA, Milan, Italy) was developed to obtain microfragmented adipose tissue with an intact stromal vascular niche and MSCs with a high regenerative capacity. The Lipogems® technology, patented in 2010 and clinically available since 2013, is an easy-to-use system designed to harvest, process, and inject refined fat tissue and is characterized by optimal handling ability and a great regenerative potential based on adipose-derived MSCs. In this novel technology, the adipose tissue is washed, emulsified, and rinsed and adipose cluster dimensions gradually are reduced to about 0.3 to 0.8 mm. In the resulting Lipogems® product, pericytes are retained within an intact stromal vascular niche and are ready to interact with the recipient tissue after transplantation, thereby becoming MSCs and starting the regenerative process. Lipogems® has been used in more than 7000 patients worldwide in aesthetic medicine and surgery, as well as in orthopedic and general surgery, with remarkable and promising results and seemingly no drawbacks. Now, several clinical trials are under way to support the initial encouraging outcomes. Lipogems® technology is emerging as a valid intraoperative system to obtain an optimal final product that may be used immediately for regenerative purposes.