Platelet Rich Plasma

By Tiffany Durzi, DVM, CVA, CCRT, CVPP

What are platelets?

Platelets are blood cells that have multiple purposes in the body. One of their main functions is to produce a clot so that a patient does not bleed to death. However, platelets also contain proteins that can help the body heal.

What is platelet rich plasma?

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is derived from removing the red blood cells from whole blood and isolating platelets. A sample of blood is taken from a patient and then spun down in a centrifuge. The red blood cells are removed with a pipette and discarded.

The left-over concentrate is called PRP which contains platelets and proteins that can then be used to promote healing and treat areas of inflammation in the body.

When would PRP therapy be indicated?

PRP is a form of regenerative medicine that has been proposed to treat inflammatory conditions that affect ligaments, muscles, and tendons, such as osteoarthritis. It may also help with bone regeneration after a bone fracture.

"PRP has been proposed as an aid to promote the healing of skin wounds and dental disease."

PRP has been proposed as an aid to promote the healing of skin wounds and dental disease. The theory is that by injecting PRP at the site of inflammation, that it will promote healing of the affected tissue and reduce inflammation.


How does it work?

Platelets contain alpha granules which carry substances called cytokines or growth factors. This includes growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2), and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-B). These growth factors are the basis of PRP therapy. They help attract other cells to the wounded area such as macrophages which engulf pathogens. These growth factors can also activate cells called fibroblasts and endothelial cells to repair wounded and inflamed tissues.

What are the side effects and risks of PRP therapy?

Since PRP therapy requires using a patient's own blood to harvest the sample (autologous), side effects appear to be minimal, but they may include pain, irritation, or bleeding at the site of the injection. However, side effects are not well established or studied at this time in veterinary medicine.

Patients often require sedation or general anesthesia when receiving PRP therapy, as it is injected directly into the affected joint or site. Talk to your veterinarian about the risks of sedation and anesthesia. Patients often require multiple injections in order for the treatment to be effective.

Is PRP therapy effective in treating inflammatory diseases?

Although the theoretical basis of PRP appears to be a promising therapy for inflammatory diseases such as osteoarthritis, further research is required before it can be recommended with certainty as a mainstream therapy. Harvesting PRP from blood samples requires special training and equipment and should only be administered by a veterinary professional that is familiar with this procedure. PRP has been studied when co-administered with adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to enhance the treatment of osteoarthritis. It may be effective for the treatment of certain dental conditions, but again, more research is needed.

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