What are Adipose Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells?

Adipose (or fat tissue) has the highest concentration of stem cells in the body. Adipose tissue on average has 100 – 500 times as many stem cells as bone marrow blood. The target cell in fat tissue is called the pericyte; this cell exists on the small blood vessels in adipose tissue.  Approved adipose tissue stem cell harvesting systems in the U.S. are designed to concentrate these pericytes for therapeutic use. Unlike bone marrow, adipose-based stem cells do not degrade with age and represent the best stem cell source in older patients.


Adipose Mesenchymal Stem Cells

How are adipose stem cells obtained?

Typically, adipose tissue harvest is performed in the operating room or in a procedure room setting. The harvest is done using a long aspiration needle placed percutaneously around the belly button or the flanks of the abdomen. This procedure is typically not painful. Approximately 150-200 cc of whole fatty tissue is harvested by lipo-aspiration. This volume usually results in 15-20 cc of usable adipose stromal fraction for therapeutic use.

What are adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells used to treat?

Harvested adipose stem cells have a strong anti-inflammatory effect on soft tissues, and are effective in the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Joint synovitis
  • Joint inflammation
  • Early osteoarthritis.

Other therapeutic indications for fat based MSCs include:

  • Cartilage repair procedures
  • Meniscus repair
  • Patellar tendinopathy
  • Elbow tendinopathy (tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow)
  • Rotator cuff repairs.

Dr. Williams can use adipose-based stem cells as an adjunct to most soft tissue-based repairs performed in orthopedic surgery.

Which patients will benefit the most from using adipose MSCs?

Best candidates for using adipose-based stem cells include those patients suffering from mild to moderate knee and shoulder arthritis symptoms. These patients typically benefit greatly from Adipose stem cell treatment and experience a decrease in pain. Patients undergoing surgery for rotator cuff repair, meniscus repair, jumpers knee surgery, tennis elbow surgery, golfer elbow surgery, and cartilage repair surgery can also benefit from adipose stem cell therapy.

Studies Supporting Adipose Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells:

Knee arthritis, joint inflammation:
Jo et al. Am J Sports Med.45(12):2774-2783.Koh et al. Am J Sports Med.42(7):1628-1637.

Articular cartilage repair: 
Kim et al. Am J Sports Med. 2014 42(10): pp. 2424-2434.Oladeji et al. Am J Sports Med. 2017 45(12):2797-2803.
Koh et al. Arthroscopy. 2016. 32(1):97-109.Pak et al. Int J Mol Sci. 2018. 23;19(7): E2146.

Rotator Cuff:
Jo et al. Stem Cells. 2018. 36(9):1441-1450.Kim et al. Am J Sports Med.2017 45(9): 2010-2018.

Lee et al. Stem Cells. 2015. 33(10):2995-3005.
Usuelli et al. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2018. 26(7):2000-2010.

Meniscus Repair:
Toratani et al. Arthroscopy. 2017. 33(2):346-354.

For more information about bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) and how orthopedic conditions can be treated with innovative regenerative biologic medicine, please contact the office of Riley J. Williams, MD, orthopedic knee surgeon serving Manhattan, Brooklyn, New York City, NY and surrounding areas.  


HSS Sports Medicine Institute West Side
610 W 58th Street
New York, NY 10019

HSS Brooklyn
148 39th Street, 7th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11232

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Fax: 212-774-2895