Introduction: Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative and progressive articular cartilage disease. Infiltration of autologous platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been proposed as a therapeutic alternative due to the content of biologically active cytokines in PRP. We aimed to compare the clinical response of acetaminophen and intra-articular leukocyte-poor PRP (LP-PRP) in early knee OA.
Materials and methods: A total of 65 patients with clinically and radiographically documented knee OA (grade 1-2) were analyzed. Patients were randomized into two groups: 32 were treated with acetaminophen (500 mg/8 h) over 6 weeks, and 33 received three intra-articular injections of autologous LP-PRP (once every 2 weeks). All patients were evaluated by the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) score, and the SF-12 health survey at baseline and 6, 12, and 24 weeks of follow-up. All LP-PRP preparations were analyzed for the platelet, leukocyte, IL-1ra, and TGF-β concentrations.
Results: The decrease in the VAS pain level in the LP-PRP group was greater than that in the acetaminophen group (p < 0.05). Patients treated with LP-PRP showed a sustained improvement in knee function at week 24 (p < 0.01). The SF-12 results only indicated an improvement in quality-of-life in the LP-PRP group at 6, 12, and 24 weeks of follow-up (p < 0.01). Both IL-1ra and TGF-β were detected in the LP-PRP samples (313.8 ± 231.6 and 21,183.8 ± 8556.3 pg/mL, respectively).
Conclusions: Treatment with LP-PRP injections resulted in a significantly better clinical outcome than did treatment with acetaminophen, with sustained lower EVA and WOMAC scores and improvement in quality-of-life (higher SF-12 score). Therapy with LP-PRP may positively modify the inflammatory joint environment by counteracting IL-1β action.
Keywords: Acetaminophen; Intra-articular infiltration; Leukocyte-poor platelet-rich plasma; Osteoarthritis.