Gastric Bypass turns off the “Fat Switch” on Fat Stem Cells

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fat stem cell knee

This past week or two we’ve been exploring things patients can do to make their stem cells better. We’ve discussed that common plastics found in food containers and liners can flip a switch on stem cells causing them to turn into fat instead of more helpful things like bone, cartilage, or muscle. We’ve also gone through a list of things like calorie reduction, carb restriction, weight lifting, and supplements that all seem to help stem cells. Now comes a study that shows that obese patients who get gastric bypass surgery have stem cells that are less likely to turn to fat. The study showed that obese patients produce factors which upregulate the ability of their fat stem cells to turn to fat and that this effect is reversible when they loose the weight (in this case through surgery). The upshot? First, this and other findings call into question whether stem cells from fat may be predestined to preferentially turn into more fat in obese patients. With 1 in 3 Americans being obese, this is yet another reason not to use fat stem cells as a primary source of cells in orthopedics. Second, don’t run out and get gastric bypass surgery! If you’re significantly overweight, you may want to consider a strict weight loss program to shed the pounds before you try using your own stem cells for treatment. Gastric bypass therapy is at best a last resort that has risks, but does seem to work well. If you’re a little overweight, loose the pounds before you get your cells drawn or try the other strategies like reducing calories short-term or restricting your carbs.

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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