Damir Hudetz 1,2,3,*, Igor Borić 1,4,5, Eduard Rod 1, Željko Jeleč 1, Andrej Radić 1, Trpimir Vrdoljak
1,2, Andrea Skelin 1,6, Gordan Lauc 6,7, Irena Trbojević-Akmačić 6, Mihovil Plečko 8, Ozren Polašek
4,7 and Dragan Primorac 1,3,4,9,10,11,12,*
Abstract: Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the leading musculoskeletal disorders in the adult population. It is associated with cartilage damage triggered by the deterioration of the extracellular matrix tissue. The present study explores the effect of intra-articular injection of autologous microfragmented adipose tissue to host chondrocytes and cartilage proteoglycans in patients with knee OA. A prospective, non-randomized, interventional, single-center, open-label clinical trial was conducted from January 2016 to April 2017. A total of 17 patients were enrolled in the study, and 32 knees with osteoarthritis were assessed. Surgical intervention (lipoaspiration) followed by tissue processing and intra-articular injection of the final microfragmented adipose tissue product into the affected knee(s) was performed in all patients. Patients were assessed for visual analogue scale (VAS), delayed gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging of cartilage (dGEMRIC) and immunoglobulin G (IgG) glycans at the baseline, three, six and 12 months after the treatment. Magnetic resonance sequence in dGEMRIC due to infiltration of the anionic, negatively charged contrast gadopentetate dimeglumine (Gd-DTPA2−) into the cartilage indicated that the contents of cartilage glycosaminoglycans significantly increased in specific areas of the treated knee joint. In addition, dGEMRIC consequently reflected subsequent changes in the mechanical axis of the lower extremities. The results of our study indicate that the use of autologous and microfragmented adipose tissue in patients with knee OA (measured by dGEMRIC MRI) increased glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content in hyaline cartilage, which is in line with observed VAS and clinical results.