Stem Cells: Can Fat make you healthier?

Stem Cells: Can Fat make you healthier?

Human Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been used for several therapeutic applications. Apart from inheriting several functional properties like immunomodulation, angiogenesis, etc.; they as well display a strong nature of multipotency, and hence are being referred to be as the ideal candidates for tissue repair and regeneration. These mighty cells are being admired more for being “immune privileged” making them most attractive candidates for clinical transplantation in allogeneic setting, with demonstrated safety and feasibility due to transplant.

In the early era, MSCs used to be isolated only from Bone Marrow; however, with the great technological advancements and upgraded knowledge, many new sources are being explored today, like the umbilical cord, dental pulp, adipose tissues, etc. These sources are quite commonly preferred over bone marrow, due to their easy availability, ethical exemption and lack of any invasive procedures. Moreover, studies have evidently confirmed these sources to be the richer sources of mesenchymal stem cells than bone marrow.

Fat or Bone Marrow, which one is the superior choice?

While the argument between bone marrow and fat for the superior choice is just like Pepsi versus Coke of our time; the confusion over bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells and stromal vascular fraction cells have always been very fascinating to both scientists as well as medical professionals. For most of the times, it is also quite possible that the scientists are convinced with some verifiable facts; and an awful lot of information is being passed either through marketing perspectives. In this regard, the current write-up is intended to educate people and physicians about scientific facts that are quite well known about this comparison.

  1. A cocktail of cells: – Studies have confirmed stromal vascular fraction to be an equivalent (If not better than bone marrow) source of stem cells, with the number of other important cells, like endothelial cells, epithelial cells, adipocytes, pre-adipocytes, etc., which are required for trans-differentiation, and differentiation into cartilaginous tissues.
  2. Lesser number of leucocytes: – Although both fat and bone marrow contain number of leucocytes, studies have elaborated how this number is responsible for impeding healing mechanism in the body. Their number is quite high in cells isolated from bone marrow. Moreover, it has also been evidently suggested that fat contains a greater number of macrophages that are leading players in the bad health effects of metabolic syndrome.
  3. Critically available source: – Bone marrow can be obtained through the minimally invasive procedure, with the application of local anesthesia that does not last for more than 2 hrs. Although adipose or belly fat isolation is highly preferred, keeping in mind two benefits; first a person will be leaner and healthier due to removal of fat from the body and second, it’s kind of a non-invasive procedure with minimal or no discomfort at all. When characterized, they follow the guidelines proposed by the International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT) including plastic adherence, trilineage differentiation into osteocytes, chondrocytes, and adipocytes. They also have a positive expression of surface markers CD 105, CD 90, CD 73 and negative expression of CD 34, CD 45, CD 14, CD 19 and Class II MHC molecules. They are thus a preferred source of adult stem cells.

The upshot is that although both sources are good with their share of advantages and benefits; there should not be any disconnection from reality when we speak about any preferred source in stem cell biology. And the moment we do so, we may have an effective treatment strategy handy with us, in terms of stem cell therapy.

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