What is Platelet-Rich Plasma?

Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP is a blood component prepared from the patient´s own blood. We process the blood to separate their three main components: the erythrocytes (red blood cells); the plasma, and the platelet rich fraction. This is performed through a process of centrifugation and selective separation of the blood.
That lplatelet rich plasma (PRP) is applied in the patient himself (autologous use) and locally (that is, not transfusionally), taking advantage of the regenerative potential of the growth factors that contain platelets in their granules.

Treatments with Platelets

What are platelets?

PRP and Growth Factors

Are all PRP the same?

PRP efficacy is closely related to the platelet concentration of the product and the procedure used to prepare it.

Treatments with Platelets | What are platelets?

Platelets are cellular particles found in the bloodstream, produced, as other blood cells in the bone marrow. Inside platelets there are different cell structures (alpha granules and dense granules) that contain proteins with different functions.

Platelets are critical to maintain homeostasis; that is, a complex balance between abnormal coagulation (thrombosis) and bleeding. This balance allows blood to flow through our blood vessels without clotting, and without “leaking” out of them (hemorrhage).

When a blood vessel is injuried, several mechanisms set up preventing hemorrhage. This process takes place in the vascular endothelium; (the inner layer of blood vessels), and begins with the arrival of platelets to the place where the damage has occurred. Platelets, after activation produce a cell aggregate, including red cells and leukocytes.

This cells clot is complemented with the activation of factors that initiate the coagulation process and by the release from platelets of several  growth factors (GF), which stimulate the regeneration of damaged cells through proliferation, differentiation and maturation of endothelial cells and surrounding tissues. Patients who have a low platelet count; – such as people undergoing chemotherapy – have an increased risk of bleeding; since the vascular repair process is compromised. To reduce the risk of bleeding, it is possible to obtain platelets from blood donors; store them,  and transfuse to patients. The preparation of platelet-rich plasma and its transfusion is a very frequent medical procedure that has been carried out for more than 70 years; and that every day is carried out in the hospitals around us.

On the other hand, when the platelet aggregation and coagulation occurs abnormally overexpress, we are faced with a thrombotic process. If the thrombosis that occurs is large enough to block the blood flow through the vessel, the consequences can be serious (heart attack, embolism…etc). Platelets are also involved in other important processes, less well known; having an important function as mediators of cellular immunity and as anti-infective agents.

PRP and Growth Factors

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a blood-borne product of increasingly relevant therapeutic interest for various medical and surgical specialities. Its efficacy is based on the presence of growth factors (GF) (mainly Platelet Derived Growth factor (PDGF), Tissue Growth Factor (TGF), Insulin-like Growth Factor(IGF), Epithelial Growth Factor (EGF), Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) inside platelets and on a potent cell proliferative capacity that promotes tissue growth and repair. Another unique characteristic of these growth factors is their anti-inflammatory and anti-infectious capacity, mediated by the intercellular signalling activity of the factors themselves.

Everything you need to know about PRP

Everything you need to know about PRP

Despite the high expectations placed on PRP, its actual efficacy remains controversial. This controversy may be due to the fact that studies have paid little attention to the evaluation of PRP quality. PRP efficacy is closely related to the product’s platelet concentration and the procedure used to prepare it. According to the new AGEMED regulations, an accepted definition of PRP is “any product that has a platelet concentration higher than the patient’s basal platelets concentration (150-350  109/L)”. However, PRP with a low platelet concentration would obviously lead to the low availability of growth factors and probably lower therapeutic efficacy. Furthermore, a poor method for centrifugation, processing, storage and application of PRP, regardless of which step, could significantly affect growth factor viability at the time of clinical or surgical application. This is especially true if the procedure damages the platelet cell structure and releases growth factors into the extra-platelet medium before the required time (activation during extraction or processing).
Another highly relevant aspect is product safety. The procedure to prepare PRP should be performed under laboratory technical conditions that ensure product sterility from blood collection to clinical use.
Other relevant aspects affecting PRP quality are related to its WBC and RBC content, which can also impact PRP efficacy.