Open Access Open Badges Research article

Intraoperative use of enriched collagen and elastin matrices with freshly isolated adipose-derived stem/stromal cells: a potential clinical approach for soft tissue reconstruction

Ziyad Alharbi12*, Sultan Almakadi1, Christian Opländer1, Michael Vogt3, Hans-Oliver Rennekampff1 and Norbert Pallua1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgery - Burn Center, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstr. 30, Aachen D-52074, Germany

2 Division of Plastic Surgery, Specialist Surgery Center, King Abdullah Medical City, Mecca, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

3 Two-Photon Microscopy Facility, Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research (IZKF), Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

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BMC Surgery 2014, 14:10  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-14-10

Published: 20 February 2014



Adipose tissue contains a large number of multipotent cells, which are essential for stem cell-based therapies. The combination of this therapy with suitable commercial clinically used matrices, such as collagen and elastin matrices (i.e. dermal matrices), is a promising approach for soft tissue reconstruction. We previously demonstrated that the liposuction method affects the adherence behaviour of freshly isolated adipose-derived stem/stromal cells (ASCs) on collagen and elastin matrices. However, it remains unclear whether freshly isolated and uncultured ASCs could be directly transferred to matrices during a single transplantation operation without additional cell culture steps.


After each fat harvesting procedure, ASCs were isolated and directly seeded onto collagen and elastin matrices. Different time intervals (i.e. 1, 3 and 24 h) were investigated to determine the time interval needed for cellular attachment to the collagen and elastin matrices. Resazurin-based vitality assays were performed after seeding the cells onto the collagen and elastin matrices. In addition, the adhesion and migration of ASCs on the collagen and elastin matrices were visualised using histology and two-photon microscopy.


A time-dependent increase in the number of viable ASCs attached to the collagen and elastin matrices was observed. This finding was supported by mitochondrial activity and histology results. Importantly, the ASCs attached and adhered to the collagen and elastin matrices after only 1 h of ex vivo enrichment. This finding was also supported by two-photon microscopy, which revealed the presence and attachment of viable cells on the upper layer of the construct.


Freshly isolated uncultured ASCs can be safely seeded onto collagen and elastin matrices for ex vivo cellular enrichment of these constructs after liposuction. Although we observed a significant number of seeded cells on the matrices after a 3-h enrichment time, we also observed an adequate number of isolated cells after a 1-h enrichment time. However, this approach must be optimised for clinical use. Thus, in vivo studies and clinical trials are needed to investigate the feasibility of this approach.

Adipose tissue-derived stem/stromal cells; Stromal vascular fraction; Liposuction; Fat grafting; Biomaterials; Collagen-based scaffolds; Regeneration and tissue engineering