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Adipose Stem Cell Therapy in Cancer Reconstruction: A Critical Review

Alperovich, Michael MD*; Lee, Z-Hye BA*; Friedlander, Paul L. MD; Rowan, Brian G. PhD; Gimble, Jeffrey M. MD, PhD§; Chiu, Ernest S. MD*

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000000283
Research Articles

Found in most mesenchymally derived organs, mesenchymal stem cells are undifferentiated cells capable of developing into many cell types. Adipose stem cells are a type of mesenchymal stem cell easily extracted from lipoaspirate, often readily available, and are conformable to the tissue defect. Their ability for self-renewal, unlimited proliferation and proangiogenic, and immunomodulatory properties have made them attractive adjuncts in plastic surgery. Since the discovery of pluripotent cells in adipose tissue, plastic surgeons have applied the technology toward improving wound healing, soft tissue augmentation, and tissue engineering. More recently, some surgeons have used adipose stem cells in cancer reconstruction. By mixing lipoaspirate with concentrated fractions of adipose stem cells through a technique termed cell-assisted lipotransfer, plastic surgeons have claimed improved aesthetic results. Promising early results have been tempered by in vitro and animal studies demonstrating increased tumor proliferation and metastasis rates with the use of adipose and other mesenchymal stem cells. This review provides a succinct yet comprehensive overview of the current literature evaluating the oncologic risks associated with adipose stem cell use in cancer.

From the *Department of Plastic Surgery, New York University Medical Center, New York, NY; †Department of Otolaryngology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA; ‡Department of Structural & Cellular Biology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA; and §Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine, Departments of Medicine and Surgery, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA.

Received March 23, 2014, and accepted for publication, after revision, May 5, 2014.

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: Dr. Gimble is cofounder, co-owner, and Chief Scientific Owner at LaCell LLC. For the remaining authors, none were declared.

Reprints: Ernest S. Chiu, MD, Department of Plastic Surgery, New York University Medical Center, 305 East 33rd Street, New York, NY 10016. E-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins