Co-regulation between adipocytes and supporting vasculature is considered an important process in adipose tissue generation. The objective of this study was to evaluate the mechanical and biological effects of a distraction technique on adipose tissue formation and maintenance. Based on the hypothesis that fat flaps gradually receding from each other can develop an adipose tissue construct, perforated polycarbonate syringe-shaped chambers were implanted in a rabbit model. Latency (1 week) and distraction (3 weeks) periods were followed by a consolidation period in the experimental groups (4, 8, and 12 weeks). In the distraction group, the volume of fat pad gradually increased up to 16 weeks. A transition zone was observed at 8 weeks, indicating the initiation of tissue generation. Histomorphologic analysis showed adipose and collagen connective tissue at 8 weeks. At 16 weeks, the relative composition was altered significantly. Adipose components occupied most of the tissue, and connective tissue was reduced. Blood vessels with endothelial lining were noted adjacent to adipocyte clusters, as well as in inter-adipocyte areas. The vessels had increased in number and were evenly distributed by 16 weeks. Our distraction technique produced more balanced adipose tissue generation than a non-distraction method, with co-development of adipose and vascular tissues.
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