Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee is a degenerative process characterized by cartilage deterioration, leading to stiffness of the joints with consequent pain and impaired mobility. Palliative methods (e.g. anti-inflammatory drugs) have no long-term effect and often patients recur to surgery. Injection within knee joint of adipose tissue-derived stromal vascular fraction (SVF) or of mesenchymal stem cells (ASCs), purified from SVF, are among the most promising non-surgical treatments, since ASCs are able to re-generate bone and cartilage. However, the isolation of the injectable SVF or ASCs is a laborious, time consuming and requires high manipulations. In a recent work published in International Orthopaedics by Ilaria Roato, member of ECTS Academy, the authors verified whether the injection of lightly manipulated concentrated adipose tissue, as an alternative to SVF and ASCs is a likewise effective and safe treatment for the knee OA.

The study was performed on 20 patients with different OA severity, who were subjected to abdominal liposuction, knee arthroscopy and intra-articular injections of concentrated adipose tissue.

All the patients, but two, reported a long-term (up to 18 months) reduction of the knee pain, improvement of the stiffness and recovery of articular function, ameliorating daily activities. Moreover, “in vitro” experiments demonstrated that ASCs isolated from the concentrated adipose tissue, were able to differentiate into osteoblasts (bone forming cells) and chondrocytes (cartilage cells). About 12 months from the injection of concentrated adipose tissue, 2 patients were subjected to knee arthroplasty, thus the joint was retrieved and analyzed. New tissue formation starting from the bone side of the osteochondral lesion was evident, suggesting that a tissue regenerative process started in the joint after concentrated adipose tissue infusion, which can be considered as a safe and effective, non-invasive treatment for knee OA, leading to pain reduction and joint function recovery in treated patients. See the original article here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00264-018-4192-4