Stem Cells from Fat Tissue Demonstrate Early Success in Reconstructive Surgery

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Released: Monday, October 23, 2006

Method may lead to Improved Life after Disease or Injury

BATON ROUGE - Stem cells derived from human fat tissue were reported today to demonstrate early success in reconstructive surgeries in over 30 patients in Japan that underwent facial and breast procedures. The results from an investigator-initiated study by Dr. Kotaro Yoshimura of Tokyo University in Japan were presented today at the 4th Annual Meeting for the International Fat Applied Technology Society taking place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Reconstructive Surgery Dr. Yoshimura performed an innovative stem cell treatment on 39 patients who underwent procedures ranging from repair of congenital facial and breast defects, aesthetic enhancements to breast reconstruction following partial mastectomy. The procedure is similar to a conventional lipo-injection. Yoshimuras team lipo-suctioned fat from his patients, concentrated stem cells found in the fat, then injected the fat and stem cells into the areas of damaged tissue. Each patient received his or her own fat and stem cells.

Until know, doctors have injected fat into damaged tissue to give physical or mechanical support. However, eventual loss of that fat, called atrophy, is now a common occurrence in patients who have had injected fat therapy. Yoshimura observed minimal atrophy in his patients, and believes the stem cells were a key to keeping fat healthy and allowing it to rejuvenate.

Stem cells derived from fat tissue appear to act through the promotion of blood vessels as a way to increase the survival of the transplanted tissue as well as continue to tissue turnover after transplantation by forming new fat cells, helping to preserve tissue volume, stated Dr. Yoshimura. These are early findings for which more research is required prior to making such a treatment broadly available, however these clinical results demonstrate the potential for stem cells derived from fat tissue.

Yoshimura also said that 70-percent of all complications arising from cosmetic surgery are linked to use of artificial materials. Stem cell enriched-fat, therefore, holds the promise of eliminating those complications.

Stem Cells from Fat Tissue Adipose tissue, also known as fat, is a rich source for stem cells as well as other cell types that contribute to the natural healing process in humans. Referred to by the medical community as adipose-derived stem cells, researchers have prompted them to convert to fat, bone, cartilage and muscle and believe these cells could help treat heart conditions, heal broken bones, and even be used in reconstructive surgery.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Gimble of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Fat is considered to be much more than just those extra pounds we carry around. Its a dynamic tissue that holds secrets to treating disease. Unlocking the potential of stem cells found in fat tissue is just the beginning.

Additional Applications A separate research team, led by Lorenza Lazzari, Ph.D., also released work that supports the thought that fat stem cells within transplanted fat can improve lipo-injection therapy.

Lazzaris team extracted patients fat from their abdomen and thigh (lipo-suction) from 12 patients and then injected the fat into patients vocal folds. This therapy is used following damage due to disease or anatomical defect. Until now, the team believed the injected fat offered only mechanical or structural support of the vocal folds.

Prior to injection, however, the team also sampled the fat for laboratory analysis.

Lazzaris team found that this procedure gave vocal abilities and normal speech to their patient for the long-term - 1 to two years so far. The injected fat remained healthier and showed rejuvenation. To determine why, the team analyzed the fat tissue used for injection and found the presence of stem cells. Lazzari believes that adult stem cells (ASCs) residing naturally in fat tissue may enhance the rejuvenation of damaged vocal folds.

Sample analysis indicated that ASCs in fat samples were present and able to differentiate into various cell types and may act as a source to provide regenerative abilities in vocal fold tissue.


The International Fat Applied Technology Society is the world's only interdisciplinary adipose tissue society. IFATS uniquely brings together different disciplines within the field in order to share knowledge, influence policy and exchange new ideas. Scientists and industry are working toward productive collaborations to develop new technology derived from and directed toward adipose tissue. A key topic of work and discussion among the scientists and physicians attending the IFATS meeting is translating the biology of adipose-derived stem cells into new therapies. For more information, visit


The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. It is a campus of Louisiana State University and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 44 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and support personnel, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Pennington Biomedical's more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 222-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.