Effects and safety of the combination of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and hyaluronic acid (HA) in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2020 Apr 11;21(1):224. doi: 10.1186/s12891-020-03262-w.


Background: Studies have shown that the combined application of hyaluronic acid (HA) and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can repair degenerated cartilage and delay the progression of knee osteoarthritis (KOA). The purpose of this study was to explore the efficacy and safety of the intra-articular injection of PRP combined with HA compared with the intra-articular injection of PRP or HA alone in the treatment of KOA.

Methods: The PubMed, Cochrane Library, EMBASE and China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) databases were searched from inception to December 2019. Randomized controlled trials and cohort studies of PRP combined with HA for KOA were included. Two orthopaedic surgeons conducted the literature retrieval and extracted the data. Outcome indicators included the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC), the Lequesne Index, the visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain, and adverse events (AEs). Review Manager 5.3 was used to calculate the relative risk (RR) or standardized mean difference (SMD) of the pooled data. STATA 14.0 was used for quantitative publication bias evaluation.

Results: Seven studies (5 randomized controlled trials, 2 cohort studies) with a total of 941 patients were included. In the VAS comparison after 6 months of follow-up, PRP combined with HA was more likely to reduce knee pain than PRP alone (SMD: - 0.31; 95% confidence interval (CI): - 0.55 to - 0.06; P = 0.01 < 0.05). PRP combined with HA for KOA achieved better improvements in the WOMAC Function Score (SMD: -0.32; 95% CI: - 0.54 to - 0.10; P < 0.05) and WOMAC Total Score (SMD: -0.42; 95% CI: - 0.67 to - 0.17; P < 0.05) at the 12-month follow-up than did the application of PRP alone. In a comparison of Lequesne Index scores at the 6-month follow-up, PRP combined with HA improved knee pain scores more than PRP alone (SMD: -0.42; 95% CI: - 0.67 to - 0.17; P < 0.05). In terms of AEs, PRP combined with HA was not significantly different from PRP or HA alone (P > 0.05).

Conclusions: Compared with intra-articular injection of PRP alone, that of PRP combined with HA can improve the WOMAC Function Scores, WOMAC Total Score, 6-month follow-up VAS ratings, and Lequesne Index scores. However, in terms of the incidence of AEs, PRP combined with HA is not significantly different from PRP or HA alone.

Keywords: Hyaluronic acid; Knee osteoarthritis; Meta-analysis; Platelet-rich plasma.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid / adverse effects
  • Hyaluronic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Viscosupplements / adverse effects
  • Viscosupplements / therapeutic use*


  • Viscosupplements
  • Hyaluronic Acid