[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 23-Aug-2012
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Contact: Hilary Glover
hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com
44-020-319-22370
BioMed Central

Repairing cartilage with fat: Problems and potential solutions

Stem cells isolated from fat are being considered as an option for treating tissue damage and diseases because of their accessibility and lack of rejection. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Stem Cell Research & Therapy shows that this is not as straightforward as previously believed, and that fat-derived stem cells secrete VEGF and other factors, which can inhibit cartilage regeneration. However pre-treating the cells with antibodies against VEGF and growing them in nutrients specifically designed to promote chondrocytes can neutralize these effects.

Chondrocytes make and maintain healthy cartilage but damage and disease including osteoarthritis can destroy cartilage resulting in pain and lack of mobility. Stem cell therapy using cells isolated from adult tissue (such as fat) are being investigated as a way of repairing this damage. Stem cells have the ability to become many different types of tissue so the real trick is persuading them to become cartilage rather than bone, or blood vessels, for example.

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology found that adipose (fat) stem cells (ASCs) secrete large amounts of factors, especially the growth factor VEGF, which prevent cartilage regeneration and actually causes the death (apoptosis) of chondrocytes along with the formation of blood vessels. Treating ASCs with medium designed to encourage their differentiation into cartilage cells was able to reduce the amount of these secreted factors and also prevented the growth of blood vessels. Specifically, an antibody designed to neutralize VEGF prevented chondrocyte apoptosis.

Prof Barbara Boyan, who led this research, explained, "Non-treated ASCs actually impeded healing of hyaline cartilage defects, and although treating ASCs improved the situation they added no benefit to compared to cartilage allowed to heal on its own. However we only looked at cartilage repair for a week after treatment, and other people have shown that two to six weeks is required before the positive effect of ASCs on influence cartilage regeneration is seen."

So while stem cells from fat may be able to help repair damaged cartilage, careful handling and pre-treatment may be required to ensure a positive result.

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Media contact

Dr Hilary Glover
Scientific Press Officer, BioMed Central
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3192 2370
Mob: +44 (0) 778 698 1967
Email: hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com

Notes to Editors

1. Adipose stem cells can secrete angiogenic factors that inhibit hyaline cartilage regeneration Christopher SD Lee, Olivia A Burnsed, Vineeth Raghuram, Jonathan Kalisvaart, Barbara D Boyan and Zvi Schwartz Stem Cell Research & Therapy (in press)

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request on the day of publication.

2. Stem Cell Research & Therapy is the major forum for translational research into stem cell therapies. An international peer-reviewed journal, it publishes high quality open access research articles with a special emphasis on basic, translational and clinical research into stem cell therapeutics and regenerative therapies, including animal models and clinical trials.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector. @BioMedCentral



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