stem cells too old

I want to use my own tissue for the source of stem cells but are they too old? It’s a common misconception we hear: that the year you were born determines how well your stem cells function. The truth is that while your age is one factor, it is minor compared to the other modifiable factors, including diet and exercise. Do not let your birthday convince you that you don’t have enough regenerative power left in your cells.

Aging Is a Chronic Inflammatory Condition

The year you were born, AKA “chronological age”, adds to the aging process by virtue of the accumulation of inflammation and senescent Zombie cells over time. But not everyone accumulates the same amount of inflammation. You can lower inflammatory stress through healthy diet, exercise, fasting, medical interventions, and other strategies that are a part of the Oregon Longevity Project that targets “biological age”, or the functional age of your cells.

Are My Stem Cells Too Old?

We take a holistic approach at ORM and look at far more than just the year you were born to determine whether you’re a good candidate for autologous adipose graft therapy. By addressing physical activity, body weight, medications, and other comorbidities, we can set you up for success regardless of chronological age because we target improvements in biological age.  Studies have shown that exercise reverses the effects of aging at the cellular level, including stem cells1. Metformin, a diabetes drug, also has a similar effect2. Many studies show that stem cells from older tissue work just as well as younger cells, including cartilage regeneration3. The studies that find aging stem cells cause declining function are focusing on inflammatory markers and genetic expression (biological age) which can both be improved, regardless of how “old” you are4.

Autologous Adipose Graft Therapy

The biggest advantage of using adipose (fat) tissue from your own body is ensuring the viability and high dose of the mesenchymal stem cells going into the joint. Fetal tissue products (umbilical cord, amniotic fluid, etc.) do not have living cells in them and now have been restricted by the FDA5. We enhance the adipose tissue by adding PRP, which is rich in growth factors that encourage stem cell activity and healing. Your own tissue is the medicine so addressing the modifiable lifestyle factors and interventions that make your cells as healthy and active as possible puts you in the best position to benefit from the therapy6.

The truth is that while your age is one factor, it is minor compared to the other modifiable factors, including diet and exercise.

stem cells too old

An Ounce of Prevention

The science is consistent: the earlier in the disease progression a joint is treated, the better it will do, regardless of age. Think of it as the “age of the joint” instead of the age of the person. A 70-year-old with Grade 2 osteoarthritis (mild-moderate) is more likely to benefit from autologous adipose graft therapy than a 50-year-old with grade 3 osteoarthritis (moderate) or grade 4 (severe). A person that loses weight will do better than someone of the same age who doesn’t lose any weight7. A person who commits to nutritional and pharmaceutical interventions to reverse the accumulation of inflammatory stress will improve more regardless of age. 

The bottom line is that you are never too old to benefit from autologous adipose graft therapy8,9. Most of the effects of aging can be improved and the ones that can’t do not seem to have a large role in the activity of your stem cells. It is yet another reason why having a broad-based approach that addresses Health from the cellular level to the joint to the whole person is crucial. Do not let your birthday convince you that you don’t have regenerative power left in your cells– you do and the team at ORM can help you harness it to keep you moving.


1. Carapeto PV, Aguayo-Mazzucato C. Effects of exercise on cellular and tissue aging. aging. Published online May 13, 2021.

2. Kim H, Yu MR, Lee H, et al. Metformin inhibits chronic kidney disease‐induced DNA damage and senescence of mesenchymal stem cells. Aging Cell. 2021;20(2):e13317.

3. Siennicka K, Zołocińska A, Dębski T, Pojda Z. Comparison of the donor age-dependent and in vitro culture-dependent mesenchymal stem cell aging in rat model. Stem Cells Int. 2021;2021:6665358.

4. Muñoz MF, Argüelles S, Marotta F, Barbagallo M, Cano M, Ayala A. Effect of age and lipoperoxidation in rat and human adipose tissue-derived stem cells. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2020;2020:6473279.

5. Panero AJ, Hirahara AM, Andersen WJ, Rothenberg J, Fierro F. Are amniotic fluid products stem cell therapies? A study of amniotic fluid preparations for mesenchymal stem cells with bone marrow comparison. Am J Sports Med. 2019;47(5):1230-1235.

6. Kornicka K, Marycz K, Tomaszewski KA, Marędziak M, Śmieszek A. The effect of age on osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation potential of human adipose derived stromal stem cells (Hascs) and the impact of stress factors in the course of the differentiation process. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015;2015:309169.

7. Conley SM, Hickson LJ, Kellogg TA, et al. Human obesity induces dysfunction and early senescence in adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stromal/stem cells. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020;8:197.

8. Xu T, Yu X, Yang Q, Liu X, Fang J, Dai X. Autologous micro-fragmented adipose tissue as stem cell-based natural scaffold for cartilage defect repair. Cell Transplant. 2019;28(12):1709-1720.

9. Gobbi A, Dallo I, Rogers C, et al. Two-year clinical outcomes of autologous microfragmented adipose tissue in elderly patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multi-centric, international study. Int Orthop. 2021;45(5):1179-1188.