The applications for fat grafting have increased recently, within both regenerative and reconstructive surgery. Although fat harvesting, processing and injection techniques have been extensively studied and standardised, this has not had a big impact on the variability of outcome following fat grafting. This suggests a possible larger role of patient characteristics on adipocyte and adipose-derived stem cell (ADSC) viability and function. This systematic review aims to collate current evidence on the effect of patient factors on adipocyte and ADSC behaviour.
A systematic literature review was performed using MEDLINE, Cochrane Library and EMBASE. It includes outcomes observed in in vitro analyses, in vivo animal studies and clinical studies. Data from basic science work have been included in the discussion to enhance our understanding of the mechanism behind ADSC behaviour.
A total of 41 papers were included in this review. Accumulating evidence indicates decreased proliferation and differentiation potential of ADSCs with increasing age, body mass index, diabetes mellitus and exposure to radiotherapy and Tamoxifen, although this was not uniformly seen across all studies. Gender, donor site preference, HIV status and chemotherapy did not show a significant influence on fat retention. Circulating oestrogen levels have been shown to support both adipocyte function and graft viability. Evidence so far suggests no significant impact of total cholesterol, hypertension, renal disease, physical exercise and peripheral vascular disease on ADSC yield.
A more uniform comparison of all factors highlighted in this review, with the application of a combination of tests for each outcome measure, is essential to fully understand factors that affect adipocyte and ADSC viability, as well as functionality. As these patient factors interact, future studies looking at adipocyte viability need to take them into consideration for conclusions to be meaningful. This would provide crucial information for surgeons when deciding appropriate volumes of lipoaspirate to inject, improve patient selection, and counsel patient expectations with regards to outcomes and likelihood for repeat procedures. An improved understanding will also assist in identification of patient groups that would benefit from graft enrichment and cryopreservation techniques.