Autologous Adipose Stem Cell Therapy for Autoimmune Diseases


Autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s own tissues are attacked via the body’s own immune system. This is a result of an inappropriate immune response that is directed to self-antigens. A patient with autoimmune disease will have unusual antibodies circulating in his or her blood, and these antibodies target the patient’s own body tissues. A new trend in the treatment of autoimmune disorders is regenerative medicine, often involving the use of autologous adipose-derived stem cells.

Autoimmune disease affects around 6% of the general population. There are many types of autoimmune diseases, which are divided into organ-specific diseases and systemic autoimmune diseases. The organ specific diseases include Sjogren’s syndrome, Graves disease, Hashimoto thyroiditis, pernicious anemia, Addison disease, myasthenia gravis, and glomerulonephritis.

Systemic autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), polymyositis, and systemic sclerosis. Women are almost 3 times more likely to acquire an autoimmune disease than men. In addition, African-Americans are affected 3 times as often than Caucasians regarding lupus, and women are 9 times as affected than men.

Why Use Adipose Stem Cells

Stem cells from adipose (fat) tissue are around 500 times more abundant per milliliter compared to bone marrow. Obtaining 200 milliliters of adipose tissue will yield millions of adipose stem cells, whereas bone marrow only yields thousands. Adipose stem cells improve blood flow, enhance wound repair, and produce anti-inflammatory effects. These cells contain cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, which all have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory functions.

Many research studies have proven that stem cells from adipose tissue are helpful for improving function and relieving pain in patients with various autoimmune disorders, as well as wound healing, spinal problems, and arthritis. The stem cells can be given via injection, or the patient can have a transplant of cells during a surgery or minimally invasive procedure. Additionally, adipose-derived stem cells are administered via infusion in many autoimmune disorder cases.

Clinical Studies

Many clinical studies have been conducted regarding stem cell therapy for the treatment of autoimmune disease. These include:

  • Lupus – In one study involving 53 patients with lupus, remission was achieved in two-thirds of the participants, at the 6-month follow-up. In addition, the five-year disease-free survival rate was 50%.
  • Systemic sclerosis – Another study involved use of stem cells for systemic sclerosis. In this patient, the efficacy rate was 92%.
  • Crohn’s disease – A study where stem cells and lymphoablative-chemotherapy was used, 12 patients with Crohn’s disease were evaluated after 18 months. Of those in the study, 92% had a drug- and disease-free transient interval, and improvement on Crohn’s disease activity index scores.
  • Systemic vasculitis – When 14 patients with systemic vasculitis were followed-up following stem cell therapy, 50% had an initial complete response with reduction in need for immunosuppression therapy.
  • Irradiation-induced colitis – MSC therapy accelerated a functional recovery of the intestine in study participants, as well as dampened the systemic inflammatory response.
  • Chronic colitis – Stem cell therapy was deemed a safe, therapeutic measure for patients suffering from fistulizing, chronic colitis. These findings were based on clinical and immunopathological features evaluated following treatment.


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