The Role of Platelet-Rich Plasma in Cartilage Pathology: An Updated Systematic Review of the Basic Science Evidence

Michael P. Fice, J. Chance Miller, Robert Christian, Charles P. Hannon, Niall Smyth, Christopher D. Murawski, Brian J. Cole, John G. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Purpose: To review the basic science studies on platelet-rich plasma (PRP) for cartilage and determine whether there has been an improvement in methodology and outcome reporting that would allow for a more meaningful analysis regarding the mechanism of action and efficacy of PRP for cartilage pathology. Methods: The PubMed/MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were screened in May 2017 with publication dates of January 2011 through May 2017 using the following key words: “platelet-rich plasma OR PRP OR autologous conditioned plasma (ACP) OR ACP AND cartilage OR chondrocytes OR chondrogenesis OR osteoarthritis OR arthritis.” Two authors independently performed the search, determined study inclusion, and extracted data. Data extracted included cytology/description of PRP, study design, and results. Results: Twenty-seven studies (11 in vitro, 13 in vivo, 3 in vitro and in vivo) met the inclusion criteria and were included in the study. All of the studies (100%) reported the method by which PRP was prepared. Two studies reported basic cytologic analysis of PRP, including platelet, white blood cell, and red blood cell counts (6.7%). Nine studies reported both platelet count and white blood cell count (30.0%). Twelve studies reported platelet count alone (40.0%). Nine studies (30.0%) made no mention at all as to the composition of the PRP used. PRP was shown to increase cell viability, cell proliferation, cell migration, and differentiation. Several studies demonstrated increased proteoglycan and type II collagen content. PRP decreased inflammation in 75.0% of the in vitro studies reporting data and resulted in improved histologic quality of the cartilage tissue in 75.0% of the in vivo studies reporting data. Conclusions: Although the number of investigations on PRP for cartilage pathology has more than doubled since 2012, the quality of the literature remains limited by poor methodology and outcome reporting. A majority of basic science studies suggest that PRP has beneficial effects on cartilage pathology; however, the inability to compare across studies owing to a lack of standardization of study methodology, including characterizing the contents of PRP, remains a significant limitation. Future basic science and clinical studies must at a minimum report the contents of PRP to better understand the clinical role of PRP for cartilage pathology. Clinical Relevance: Establishing proof of concept for PRP to treat cartilage pathology is important so that high-quality clinical studies with appropriate indications can be performed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-976.e3
JournalArthroscopy - Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


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