BACKGROUND: Injections with phosphatidylcholine- and deoxycholate-containing substances are used to treat localized fat accumulation and lipomas. It is believed that the injected substances induce fat cell destruction with subsequent acute panniculitis followed by a repair process of the treated fat tissue.
OBJECTIVES: We investigated whether necrosis or apoptosis of fat cells was induced by the injected substances.
METHODS: Samples of fat tissue of lipoma were collected at various times after injection and evaluated by light and electron microscopy, by immunostaining for active caspase-3 and antideoxyribonuclease I, in situ end-labelling (TUNEL staining), and biochemical caspase-3 assays.
RESULTS: Light and electron microscopy showed fat cell necrosis in all areas of the treated lipomas. Low levels of active caspase-3 indicated the absence of apoptosis.
CONCLUSIONS: Injection of the lipolytic substances phosphatidylcholine and deoxycholate leads to fat cell necrosis rather than apoptosis. However, additional studies evaluating different dosing and further time points after treatment are necessary.
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