The adipose tissue was considered a reserve of energy until the ’80s, when it was found that this tissue was
involved in the metabolism of sex steroids such as estrogens. From then on, the importance attributed to this
tissue radically changed as it was then considered an active organ, involved in important functions of the human
body. In 2001, for the first time, the existence of stem cells within this tissue was reported, and since then, this
tissue has been gaining an increased importance as a stem cell source for a wide range of potential applications
in cell therapies and=or tissue engineering and regenerative medicine strategies, mainly due to its wide availability
and easy access. This manuscript provides an overview on adipose stem cells (i.e., adipose tissue–derived
stem cells, ASCs) considering the tissue of origin, the niche of the ASCs, and their phenotype in all aspects. In
this paper it is also discussed the markers that have been used for the characterization of these cells, their
differentiation properties, and their immunological reactivity, reporting studies from 2001 until this date. The
ASCs are also compared with bone marrow stem cells (BMSCs), until now considered as the gold standard
source of stem cells, underlining the common characteristics and the differences between the stem cells obtained
from these two sources, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of their potential use in different applications.
Finally, this review will also focus on the potential application of ASCs in tissue engineering applications,
particularly in the regeneration of bone and cartilage, commenting on the progress of this approach and
future trends of the field.