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Highly Accessed Review

Platelet-rich plasma therapy - future or trend?

Robinder S Dhillon12, Edward M Schwarz12 and Michael D Maloney12*

Author Affiliations

1 The Center for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14642, USA

2 Department of Orthopaedics, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14642, USA

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2012, 14:219  doi:10.1186/ar3914

Published: 8 August 2012

Abstract

Chronic complex musculoskeletal injuries that are slow to heal pose challenges to physicians and researchers alike. Orthobiologics is a relatively newer science that involves application of naturally found materials from biological sources (for example, cell-based therapies), and offers exciting new possibilities to promote and accelerate bone and soft tissue healing. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is an orthobiologic that has recently gained popularity as an adjuvant treatment for musculoskeletal injuries. It is a volume of fractionated plasma from the patient's own blood that contains platelet concentrate. The platelets contain alpha granules that are rich in several growth factors, such as platelet-derived growth factor, transforming growth factor-β, insulin-like growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor and epidermal growth factor, which play key roles in tissue repair mechanisms. PRP has found application in diverse surgical fields to enhance bone and soft-tissue healing by placing supra-physiological concentrations of autologous platelets at the site of tissue damage. The relative ease of preparation, applicability in the clinical setting, favorable safety profile and possible beneficial outcome make PRP a promising therapeutic approach for future regenerative treatments. However, there is a large knowledge gap in our understanding of PRPs mechanism of action, which has raised skepticism regarding its potential efficacy and use. Thus, the aim of this review is to describe the various factors proposed to contribute to the biological activity of PRP, and the published pre-clinical and clinical evidence to support it. Additionally, we describe the current techniques and technology for PRP preparation, and review the present shortcomings of this therapy that will need to be overcome if it is to gain broad acceptance.