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Adipose Stem Cell-Assisted Autologous Fat Grafting as an Effective Treatment Approach for Localized Scleroderma

Review of “A pilot study on ex vivo expanded autologous adipose‐derived stem cells of improving fat retention in localized scleroderma patients” from STEM CELLS Translational Medicine by Stuart P. Atkinson

Localized scleroderma, a rare autoimmune connective tissue disorder characterized by inflammation and fibrosis of the skin and subcutaneous fat in the affected area [1], generally presents as subcutaneous tissue atrophy and hyperpigmentation that affects the life quality and mental health of affected patients [1, 2]. Researchers led by Xiaojun Wang (Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Beijing), Robert Chunhua Zhao (Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing), and Xiuqin Zhang (Jimo Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, Qingdao, China) recently reported that adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) could significantly improve the retention of autologous fat grafts, which represents an accepted treatment approach for localized scleroderma [3].

As reported in their recent STEM CELLS Translational Medicine article, Wang et al. next compared ASC‐assisted, stromal vascular fraction (SVF)‐assisted, and conventional autologous fat grafting regarding the improvement of facial atrophy in the hope of identifying an optimal therapeutic approach for localized scleroderma patients [4]. Their encouraging results now propose ASC‐assisted autologous fat grafting as a safe and effective treatment for localized scleroderma.

Here are all the highlights from this pilot study exploring novel scleroderma treatments:

  • The study monitored eighteen localized scleroderma patients (eleven females and seven males with an average age of 26.68 ± 1.28 years) with a six-month follow-up period after being placed randomly into three different treatment groups (Conventional autologous fat grafting, SVF-assisted autologous fat grafting, and ASC-assisted autologous fat grafting)
  • At six months, ASC-assisted autologous fat grafting provided for significantly better fat retention (nearly 50%) compared to the other treatment groups
    • SVF-assisted autologous fat grafting also performed significantly better than conventional autologous fat grafting
  • Safety evaluations revealed a lack of severe adverse events occurring during the procedure and subsequent follow‐up

While these encouraging findings suggest the safety, tolerability, feasibility, and overall attractiveness of ASC-assisted autologous fat grafting as a treatment option for localized scleroderma patients, the authors note the need to confirm their findings in studies with larger numbers of patients and extended follow-up periods.

For more on how ASC-assisted autologous fat grafting may represent a safe and effective treatment for localized scleroderma, stay tuned to the Stem Cells Portal!


  1. Careta MF and Romiti R, Localized scleroderma: clinical spectrum and therapeutic update. Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia 2015;90:62-73.
  2. Lis-Święty A, Skrzypek-Salamon A, Ranosz-Janicka I, et al., Associations between Disease Activity/Severity and Damage and Health-Related Quality of Life in Adult Patients with Localized Scleroderma—A Comparison of LoSCAT and Visual Analogue Scales. Journal of Clinical Medicine 2020;9.
  3. Chen B, Wang X, Long X, et al., Supportive Use of Adipose-Derived Stem Cells in Cell-Assisted Lipotransfer for Localized Scleroderma. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 2018;141.
  4. Wang C, Long X, Si L, et al., A pilot study on ex vivo expanded autologous adipose-derived stem cells of improving fat retention in localized scleroderma patients. STEM CELLS Translational Medicine 2021;10:1148-1156.