Blood Vessels Grown From Liposuction Stem Cells
July 27, 2012

Stem Cells Extracted During Liposuction Help Create Blood Vessels

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Findings presented at the American Heart Association's Basic Cardiovascular Sciences 2012 Scientific Sessions show that adult stem cells extracted during liposuction can be used to grow small-diameter blood vessels that could be used in heart bypass surgery.

Matthias Nollert, the lead author of the study, said these liposuction-derived vessels could help solve major problems associated with grafting blood vessels from other places in the body, or form using artificial blood vessels that are not living tissue.

"Current small-diameter vessel grafts carry an inherent risk of clotting, being rejected or otherwise failing to function normally," Nollert said in a press release. "Our engineered blood vessels have good mechanical properties and we believe they will contract normally when exposed to hormones. They also appear to prevent the accumulation of blood platelets – a component in blood that causes arteries to narrow."

Adult stem cells derived from fat are turned into smooth muscle cells in the laboratory, and then are "seeded" into a thin collagen membrane.  As the cells multiply, the researchers rolled them into tubes matching the diameter of small blood vessels.

Within three to four weeks, the cells brew into healthy, usable small-diameter blood vessels. Millions of people with heart disease need small blood vessel replacements or grafts to restore function to damaged arteries.

Nolbert said that creating blood vessels through this technique has potential for "off-the-shelf" replacement vessels that can be used in graft procedures.

The researchers hope that within six months, they will have a working prototype to start testing in animals.

Although it is still just a preliminary study, further successful results in deeper studies could eventually lead to the stem cell derived small blood vessels being used during heart bypass surgery and other procedures when blood needs to be re-routed.

"Tissue engineering has the potential to overcome these limitations by producing a readily-available vascular graft completely from biological material," the researchers pointed out as they presented their findings.

The study was funded by the American Heart Association, and the stem cells were supplied by Pennington Biomedical Research Center.