Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has shown in vivo potential to stimulate anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) healing at early time points in large animal models. However, in animal models, the healing potential of the ACL is dependent on animal age. In this study, we hypothesized that there are age-dependent differences in ACL cell metabolism, collagen gene expression, and the ability of the cells to respond to growth factors in PRP. To test this hypothesis, ACL cells were obtained from skeletally immature, adolescent and adult pigs, and cultured in a collagen type I hydrogel with or without PRP for 14 days. When cultured in collagen-only hydrogel, ACL cells from adult pigs had a 19% lower apoptotic rate as compared to immature pigs (p = 0.001) and a 25% higher cellular metabolic activity as compared to adolescent pigs (p = 0.006). The addition of PRP to the collagen hydrogel resulted in a significantly increased cellular metabolic activity, reduced apoptotic rate, and stimulation of collagen production in the cells from the immature and adolescent animals (p < 0.05 for all comparisons) but had less effect on adult cells. These findings suggest that skeletal maturity may influence ACL cells' metabolic activity, apoptosis, collagen production, and response to PRP.
Copyright © 2011 Orthopaedic Research Society.