Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability, and affect hundreds of millions of people around the world. One of the most popular methods used to biologically enhance healing in the fields of orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine includes the use of autologous blood products, namely, platelet rich plasma (PRP). PRP is an autologous concentration of human platelets to supra-physiologic levels.
At baseline levels, platelets function as a natural reservoir for growth factors including platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-β1), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I). PRP is commonly used in orthopaedic practice to augment healing in sports-related injuries of skeletal muscle, tendons, and ligaments. Despite its pervasive use, the clinical efficacy of PrP therapy and varying mechanisms of action have yet to be established. Basic science research has revealed that PRP exerts is effects through many downstream events secondary to release of growth factors and other bioactive factors from its alpha granules.
These effects may vary depending on the location of injury and the concentration of important growth factors involved in various soft tissue healing responses. This review focuses on the effects of PrP and its associated bioactive factors as elucidated in basic science research. Current findings in PRP basic science research, which have shed light on its proposed mechanisms of action, have opened doors for future areas of PrP research.
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