The Effect of Intra-articular Injection of Autologous Microfragmented Fat Tissue on Proteoglycan Synthesis in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis

Author: Hudetz et al
Year: 2017

The Regenerative Clinic's view on this research

Prof. Mark Slevin: Degeneration and worsening in knee osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by breakdown of tissue particularly the cartilage which is critical for support and protection of the joint.  In this prospective randomized study, patients with severe grade 3-4 OA, (n-17 with a total number of 32 treated knees) had their own micro-fragmented adipose tissue (MFAT) injected into the damaged region and changes were observed up to 12 months later. A sensitive contrast enhanced MRI called dGEMRIC showed that a critical component of the cartilage formation-glycosaminoglycan or GAG, was increased after treatment and concomitant with this, some improvement in the joint mechanical axis. This study demonstrated safety of the procedure and for the first time a direct link of MFAT injection to increased quality of cartilage in OA patients.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the leading musculoskeletal disorders in the adult population. It is associated with cartilage damage triggered by the deterioration of the extracellular matrix tissue. The present study explores the effect of intra-articular injection of autologous microfragmented adipose tissue to host chondrocytes and cartilage proteoglycans in patients with knee OA. A prospective, non-randomized, interventional, single-center, open-label clinical trial was conducted from January 2016 to April 2017. A total of 17 patients were enrolled in the study, and 32 knees with osteoarthritis were assessed. Surgical intervention (lipoaspiration) followed by tissue processing and intra-articular injection of the final microfragmented adipose tissue product into the affected knee(s) was performed in all patients. Patients were assessed for visual analogue scale (VAS), delayed
gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging of cartilage (dGEMRIC) and immunoglobulin G (IgG) glycans at the baseline, three, six and 12 months after the treatment. Magnetic resonance sequence in dGEMRIC due to infiltration of the anionic, negatively charged contrast gadopentetate dimeglumine (Gd-DTPA2−) into the cartilage indicated that the contents of cartilage glycosaminoglycans significantly increased in specific areas of the treated knee joint. In addition, dGEMRIC consequently reflected subsequent changes in the mechanical axis of the lower extremities. The results of our study indicate that the use of autologous and microfragmented adipose tissue in patients with knee OA (measured by dGEMRIC MRI) increased glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content in hyaline cartilage, which is in line with observed VAS and clinical results.

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