Adipose tissue is a rich source of stem cells, which are reported to represent 2% of the stromal vascular fraction (SVF). The infrapatellar fat pad (IFP) is a unique source of tissue, from which human adipose-derived stem cells (hADSCs) have been shown to harbour high chondrogenic potential. This review aims to calculate, based on the literature, the culture time needed before an average knee articular cartilage defect can be treated using stem cells obtained from arthroscopically or openly harvested IFP. Firstly, a systematic literature review was performed to search for studies that included the number of stem cells isolated from the IFP. Subsequent analysis was conducted to identify the amount of IFP tissue harvestable, stem cell count and the overall yield based on the harvesting method. We then determined the minimum time required before treating an average-sized knee articular cartilage defect with IFP-derived hADSCs by using our newly devised equation. The amount of fat tissue, the SVF cell count and the stem cell yield are all lower in arthroscopically harvested IFP tissue compared to that collected using arthrotomy. As an extrapolation, we show that an average knee defect can be treated in 20 or 17 days using arthroscopically or openly harvested IFP-derived hADSCs, respectively. In summary, the systematic review conducted in this study reveals that there is a higher amount of fat tissue, SVF cell count and overall yield (cells/volume or cells/gram) associated with open (arthrotomy) compared to arthroscopic IFP harvest. In addition to these review findings, we demonstrate that our novel framework can give an indication about the culture time needed to scale up IFP-derived stem cells for the treatment of articular cartilage defects based on harvesting method.
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