The effect of autologous platelet rich plasma on tenocytes of the human rotator cuff

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2018 Nov 30;19(1):422. doi: 10.1186/s12891-018-2339-5.


Background: Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is widely used in rotator cuff repairs but its effect on the healing process is unclear. Several cell culture studies on the effect of allogenic PRP have reported promising results but are not transferable to clinical practice. The aim of the present study is to assess the possible effect of autologous PRP on rotator cuff tendon cells. The amount of growth factors involved with tendon-bone healing (PDGF-AB, IGF-1, TGF-β1, BMP-7 and -12) is quantified.

Methods: Rotator cuff tissue samples were obtained from (n = 24) patients grouped by age (>/< 65 years) and sex into four groups and cells were isolated and characterized. Later, autologous PRP preparations were obtained and the effect was analyzed by means of cell proliferation, collagen I synthesis and expression of collagen I and III. Furthermore, the PRPs were quantified for growth factor content by means of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF-AB), insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), transforming growth factor (TGF-β1), as well as bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) -7 and - 12.

Results: Cell proliferation and absolute synthesis of collagen I were positively affected by PRP exposure compared to controls (p < 0.05), but expression and relative synthesis of collagen I (normalized to cell proliferation) were significantly reduced. PRP contained high amounts of IGF-1 and lower levels of TGF-β1 and PDGF-AB. The amounts of BMP-7 and -12 were below the detection limits.

Conclusions: PRP is a source of growth factors such involved with tendon-bone healing. PRP had an anabolic effect on the human rotator cuff tenocytes of the same individual in vitro by means of cell proliferation and absolute, but not relative collagen I synthesis. These results encourage further studies on clinical outcomes with more comparable standards in terms of preparation and application methods.

Level of evidence: Controlled laboratory study.

Keywords: Autologous; Growth factor; PRP; Platelet rich; Rotator cuff; Tendon cell; Tenocyte.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthroscopy
  • Biological Products / pharmacology*
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use
  • Biopsy
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen Type I / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma*
  • Primary Cell Culture
  • Rotator Cuff / cytology
  • Rotator Cuff / drug effects*
  • Rotator Cuff / pathology
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries / therapy*
  • Tenocytes / drug effects*
  • Tenocytes / metabolism
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing / drug effects


  • Biological Products
  • Collagen Type I