Cryopreserved Fat Cells Can Be Stored for Future Stem Cell Use

David T Harris, Phd Department of Immunobiology University of Arizona PO Box 245221, Tucson, AZ Interview with:
David T Harris, Phd
Department of Immunobiology
University of Arizona
PO Box 245221, Tucson, AZ 85724. What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Harris: The primary finding of the study was that it was routinely possible to harvest left-over adipose tissue and stem cells from both liposuction and cosmetic procedures, cryopreserve it for prolonged periods of time, and then thaw the tissue later when needed.  Frozen and thawed adipose tissue was routinely viable and able to be differentiated into additional fat, as well as bone, cartilage and neuron-like cells.  Thus, one can bank adipose tissue and stem cells without first isolating the stem cells allowing one to use the frozen and thawed tissue at later times for both cosmetic applications as well as for regenerative medicine. Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Harris: Previous reports in the literature had been mixed with regard to the success of freezing and thawing adipose tissue, but the methodology had been quite primitive.  However, utilizing the methodology we devised one can successfully and routinely cryopreserve adipose tissue in liquid nitrogen dewers and later thaw the tissue and stem cells for clinical use. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Harris: If a patient is undergoing a liposuction or other cosmetic procedure where adipose tissue (fat) will be harvested; then rather than throwing it away it can now be banked for future use.  Adipose tissue is the richest source of stem cells in the body.  These stem cells (termed mesenchymal stem cells or msc) are being used in more than 100 clinical trials for orthopedic, cardiac and neural applications.  One now has the opportunity to save some of these stem cells when young and healthy for later use in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.  In addition, one can use the whole, frozen tissue for cosmetic applications such as scar reductions, wrinkle treatments, breast or buttocks augmentations, and for wound healing. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Harris: We have currently frozen and thawed a variety of adipose tissue samples and used these samples clinically for a variety of cosmetic applications.  We are currently investigating the use of the thawed samples for tissue engineering, with initial success.  More work on using the samples for various regenerative medicine applications is needed.  However, there does not seem to be any difference between cryopreservation of adipose tissue and cord blood (commonly performed more than one million times each year).

What seems to be most important is that younger and healthier stem cells work better than older and/or unhealthy stem cells.  Thus, one needs to take the opportunity to bank the tissue and stem cells when one can.


Cryopreservation Of Whole Adipose Tissue For Future Use In Regenerative Medicine
Mahmood S. Choudhery, Michael Badowski, Angela Muise, John Pierce, David T. Harris

Journal of Surgical Research – 10 October 2013 (10.1016/j.jss.2013.09.027)

Last Updated on October 22, 2013 by Marie Benz MD FAAD