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Phys Sportsmed. 2017 Sep;45(3):203-223. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2017.1357421. Epub 2017 Jul 28.

Biologic injections for osteoarthritis and articular cartilage damage: can we modify disease?

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a Department of Sports Medicine Orthopaedics , Rothman Institute , Philadelphia , PA , USA.



The purpose of the present investigation is to conduct a systematic review of the literature to review the clinical results of platelet rich plasma (PRP) and mesenchymal stem cell treatments (MSC) (biologics) for articular cartilage lesions and osteoarthritis of the knee.


A search of the PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases was performed to identify studies involving biologic therapy for osteoarthritis or osteochondral defects. Only Level I-III clinical trials with at least 3-month follow-up were included. Outcome data was gathered on any patient-completed surveys, 2nd look arthroscopy, follow-up imaging, biopsy/histology results, and any adverse effects of treatment.


Thirty-three articles met our inclusion criteria. There was a total of 21 PRP studies in the study. All PRP studies showed clinical improvement with PRP therapies in outcomes surveys measuring patient satisfaction, pain, and function. Two studies reported no significant difference in improvement compared to hyaluronic acid (HA). Similarly, the 7/9 MSC studies showed improvement. One study found BM-MSC implantation was not significantly superior to matrix assisted chondrocyte implantation (MACI), while one reported peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) did not significantly improve outcomes over HA. Of the three studies looking at a combination of MSC/PRP, two found MSC/PRP combination did not improve outcomes compared to MSC or PRP therapy alone. The one PRP study that had a 2nd look arthroscopy reported increases cartilage regeneration with PRP. All 8 MSC studies with follow-up MRI and all 7 MSC studies with 2nd look arthroscopy showed improvement in cartilage regeneration in terms of coverage, fill of the defect, and/or firmness of the new cartilage.


Current data suggests that, of the two treatments, MSC provides more significant disease modifying effect; however, further research needs to be done to compare these two treatments and determine if there is a synergetic effect when combined.


Biologics; Knee; MSC; PRP; Stem cells; osteoarthritis; osteochondral lesions

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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