Fat-Derived Stem Cells Reduce Damage in Heart Attack Patients

A recent study from the Erasmus University Medical Centre, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, has found that fat cells removed from the waistline during liposuction could potentially help heart attack patients recover. This fat, researchers found, is rich in stem cells.

The stem cells derived from fat, otherwise known as ‘adipose-derived regenerative cells’, can reduce the amount of damaged heart tissue, as well as increase blood flow and improve perfusion, or the heart’s pumping ability.

The team, led by Dr. Henricus J. Duckers, studied 11 male and 3 female heart attack patients that had undergone an angioplasty, a procedure in which a balloon is inserted to open up clogged arteries. They took
200-250 cubic centimetres of fat from 10 patients’ abdomens, isolated 20 million stem cells and infused these into the patients’ hearts.

Six months later the stem cell-treated patients showed a 16.2% reduction in the size of heart muscle damage. Patients that did not receive the stem cells showed no improvement. “What it means for the patient is they have less heart failure and also less reoccurrences of heart attacks”, said Dr. Duckers.

Although the results were statistically not significant—likely owing to the small sample size—researchers are preparing for Phases 2 and 3, which will include up to 375 patients at 35 medical centres around the EU.

A similar study conducted in Winnipeg, which found adipose-derived regenerative cells produce similar repair mechanisms in animals, lends credibility to the findings.