Imaging the Stromal Vascular Fraction during Soft-Tissue Reconstruction

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Abstract

Background:

Although fat grafting is an increasingly popular practice, suboptimal volume retention remains an obstacle. Graft enrichment with the stromal vascular fraction has gained attention as a method of increasing graft retention. However, few studies have assessed the fate and impact of transplanted stromal vascular fraction on fat grafts. In vivo imaging techniques can be used to help determine the influence stromal vascular fraction has on transplanted fat.

Methods:

Stromal vascular fraction was labeled with 1,1′-dioctadecyl-3,3,3′,3′-tetramethylindotricarbocyanine iodide (DiR), a near-infrared dye, and tracked in vivo. Proliferation and differentiation of labeled cells were assessed to confirm that labeling did not adversely affect cellular function. Different doses of labeled stromal vascular fraction were tracked within fat grafts over time using the in vivo imaging system.

Results:

No significant differences in differentiation and proliferation were observed in labeled versus unlabeled cells (p > 0.05). A pilot study confirmed that stromal vascular fraction fluorescence was localized to fat grafts and different cell doses could be distinguished. A larger-scale in vivo study revealed that stromal vascular fraction fluorescence was statistically significant (p < 0.05) between different cell dose groups and this significance was maintained in higher doses (3 × 106 and 2 × 106 cells/ml of fat graft) for up to 41 days in vivo.

Conclusions:

DiR labeling allowed the authors to differentiate between cell doses and confirm localization. This article supports the use of DiR labeling in conjunction with in vivo imaging as a tool for imaging stromal vascular fraction within fat grafts.

CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic, V.

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