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Intra-articular injection of autologous adipose-derived stromal vascular fractions for knee osteoarthritis: a double-blind randomized self-controlled trial

First Online: 14 August 2018



The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical and radiological efficacy of autologous adipose-derived stromal vascular fraction (SVF) versus hyaluronic acid in patients with bilateral knee osteoarthritis.


Sixteen patients with bilateral symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (K-L grade II to III; initial pain evaluated at four or greater on a ten-point VAS score) were enrolled in this study, which were randomized into two groups. Each patient received 4-ml autologous adipose-derived SVF treatment (group test, n = 16) in one side of knee joints and a single dose of 4-ml hyaluronic acid treatment (group control, n = 16) in the other side. The clinical evaluations were performed pre-operatively and post-operatively at one month, three months, six months, and 12-months follow-up visit, using the ten-point visual analog scale (VAS), the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), and the knee range of motion (ROM). The whole-organ assessment of the knees was performed with whole-organ magnetic resonance imaging score (WORMS) based on MRI at baseline, six months and 12-months follow-up. The articular repair tissue was assessed quantitatively and qualitatively by magnetic resonance observation of cartilage repair tissue (MOCART) score based on follow-up MRI at six months and 12 months.


No significant baseline differences were found between two groups. Safety was confirmed with no severe adverse events observed during 12-months follow-up. The SVF-treated knees showed significantly improvement in the mean VAS, WOMAC scores, and ROM at 12-months follow-up visit compared with the baseline. In contrast, the mean VAS, WOMAC scores, and ROM of the control group became even worse but not significant from baseline to the last follow-up visit. WORMS and MOCART measurements revealed a significant improvement of articular cartilage repair in SVF-treated knees compared with hyaluronic acid-treated knees.


The results of this study suggest that autologous adipose-derived SVF treatment is safe and can effectively relief pain, improve function, and repair cartilage defects in patients with knee osteoarthritis.


Osteoarthritis Adipose-derived stromal vascular fractions Intra-articular injection Articular cartilage