Matrix metalloproteinase content and activity in low-platelet, low-leukocyte and high-platelet, high-leukocyte platelet rich plasma (PRP) and the biologic response to PRP by human ligament fibroblasts

Am J Sports Med. 2014 May;42(5):1211-8. doi: 10.1177/0363546514524710. Epub 2014 Mar 13.


Background: Recent work has shown the presence of catabolic cytokines in platelet-rich plasma (PRP), but little is known about endogenous catabolic proteases such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Hypothesis/

Purpose: To quantify MMP content in 2 commercially available PRP preparation systems: Arthrex Double Syringe System autologous conditioned plasma (ACP) and Biomet GPS (GPS). The hypothesis was that MMPs are actively secreted from PRP immediately after preparation.

Study design: Controlled laboratory study.

Methods: PRP was prepared using either ACP (low platelet, low leukocyte) or GPS (high platelet, high leukocyte). MMP-2, MMP-3, and MMP-9 concentrations were measured using multiplex enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for up to 6 days in 2 donors, and MMP activity was measured in 3 donors using kinetic activity kits able to detect the enzymatic cleavage of a fluorogenic peptide. Human ligament fibroblasts were cultured and exposed to both ACP and GPS from 1 donor each. MMP-2, -3, and -9 concentrations were assayed in culture media at 24 and 48 hours after exposure.

Results: GPS exhibited higher total MMP-2, -3, and -9 concentrations for up to 144 hours of release, while ACP had higher platelet-normalized MMP-2 and MMP-3 concentrations. GPS had significantly higher total and endogenous MMP-2 activity (P = .004 and .014, respectively), MMP-3 activity (P = .020 and .015, respectively), and MMP-9 activity (P = .004 and .002, respectively) compared with ACP. Once normalized to platelet count, differences in MMP activity were not significant between ACP and GPS. Compared with controls, cells stimulated with interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) and treated with ACP showed significantly higher fold changes of MMP-2 (P = .001) and MMP-3 (P = .003) concentrations at 24 hours than did cells treated with GPS. Total MMP-9 content was higher in the media of GPS-treated, IL-1β-stimulated cells compared with ACP-treated cells (P = .001). At 48 hours, IL-1β-stimulated cells treated with GPS exhibited higher fold changes of MMP-2 concentration (P = .002) compared with controls, but no difference in MMP-3 concentration was found. At 48 hours, there was a significantly higher concentration of MMP-9 in the cell culture media of ACP-treated cells compared with GPS-treated cells (P = .003).

Conclusion: PRP prepared as both ACP and GPS contains MMP-2, -3, and -9, which is released over a period of at least 6 days. Furthermore, a large proportion of these MMPs are in their active form, and MMP activity is dependent on platelet count within the PRP preparation. Once exposed to ligament fibroblasts, both ACP and GPS cause the fibroblasts to release MMPs, most notably 24 hours after PRP exposure, and this release is dependent on prior IL-1β stimulation.

Clinical relevance: The results of this study demonstrate that PRP therapy delivers ng/mL-range concentrations of catabolic proteases, which could perpetuate inflammation and inhibit tissue healing.

Keywords: MMP activity; ligament fibroblasts; matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs); multiplex ELISA; platelet-rich plasma (PRP).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Fibroblasts / physiology*
  • Hematocrit
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1beta / administration & dosage
  • Leukocytes / physiology
  • Ligaments / cytology*
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / analysis*
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma / cytology*
  • Time Factors


  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases