Background: Despite a revived interest in fat grafting procedures, clinicians still fail to demonstrate clearly the in vivo behavior of fat grafts as a dynamic tissue substitute. However, the basic principles in cellular biology teach us that cells can survive and develop, provided that a structural matrix exists that directs their behavior. The purpose of this in vitro study was to analyze that behavior of crude fat grafts, cultured on a three-dimensional laminin-rich matrix.
Methods: Nonprocessed, human fat biopsy specimens (approximately 1 mm3) were inoculated on Matrigel-coated wells to which culture medium was added. The control group consisted of fat biopsy specimens embedded in medium alone. The cellular proliferation pattern was followed over 6 weeks. Additional cultures of primary generated cellular spheroids were performed and eventually subjected to adipogenic differentiation media.
Results: A progressive outgrowth of fibroblast-like cells from the core fat biopsy specimen was observed in both groups. Within the Matrigel group, an interconnecting three-dimensional network of spindle-shaped cells was established. This new cell colony reproduced spheroids that functioned again as solitary sources of cellular proliferation. Addition of differentiation media resulted in lipid droplet deposition in the majority of generated cells, indicating the initial steps of adipogenic differentiation.
Conclusions: The authors noticed that crude, nonprocessed fat biopsy specimens do have considerable potential for future tissue engineering-based applications, provided that the basic principles of developmental, cellular biology are respected. Spontaneous in vitro expansion of the stromal cells present in fat grafts within autologous and injectable matrices could create “off-the-shelf” therapies for reconstructive procedures.