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Adipose-derived stromal cells for osteoarticular repair: trophic function versus stem cell activity

  • M. Ruetze (a1) and W. Richter (a1)

The identification of multipotent adipose-derived stromal cells (ASC) has raised hope that tissue regeneration approaches established with bone-marrow-derived stromal cells (BMSC) can be reproduced with a cell-type that is far more accessible in large quantities. Recent detailed comparisons, however, revealed subtle functional differences between ASC and BMSC, stressing the concept of a common mesenchymal progenitor existing in a perivascular niche across all tissues. Focussing on bone and cartilage repair, this review summarises recent in vitro and in vivo studies aiming towards tissue regeneration with ASC. Advantages of good accessibility, high yield and superior growth properties are counterbalanced by an inferiority of ASC to form ectopic bone and stimulate long-bone healing along with their less pronounced osteogenic and angiogenic gene expression signature. Hence, particular emphasis is placed on establishing whether stem cell activity of ASC is so far proven and relevant for successful osteochondral regeneration, or whether trophic activity may largely determine therapeutic outcome.

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*Corresponding author: W. Richter, Research Centre for Experimental Orthopaedics, Heidelberg University Hospital, Schlierbacher Landstrasse 200a, D-69118 Heidelberg, Germany. E-mail:
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