Reporting in clinical studies on platelet-rich plasma therapy among all medical specialties: A systematic review of Level I and II studies

PLoS One. 2021 Apr 23;16(4):e0250007. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0250007. eCollection 2021.


Background: The clinical practice of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy has grown significantly in recent years in multiple medical specialties. However, comparisons of PRP studies across medical fields remain challenging because of inconsistent reporting of protocols and characterization of the PRP being administered. The purpose of this systematic review was to determine the quantity of level I/II studies within each medical specialty and compare the level of study reporting across medical fields.

Methods: The Cochrane Database, PubMed, and EMBASE databases were queried for level I/II clinical studies on PRP injections across all medical specialties. From these studies, data including condition treated, PRP processing and characterization, delivery, control group, and assessed outcomes were collected.

Results: A total of 132 studies met the inclusion and exclusion criteria and involved 28 different conditions across 8 specialties (cardiothoracic surgery, cosmetic, dermatology, musculoskeletal (MSK), neurology, oral maxillofacial surgery, ophthalmology, and plastic surgery). Studies on PRP for MSK injuries made up the majority of the studies (74%), with knee osteoarthritis and tendinopathy being most commonly studied. Of the 132 studies, only 44 (33%) characterized the composition of PRP used, and only 23 (17%) reported the leukocyte component. MSK studies were more likely to use patient-reported outcome measures to assess outcomes, while studies from other specialties were more likely to use clinician- or imaging-based objective outcomes. Overall, 61% of the studies found PRP to be favorable over control treatment, with no difference in favorable reporting between MSK and other medical specialties.

Conclusions: The majority of level I/II clinical studies investigating PRP therapy across all medical specialties have been conducted for MSK injuries with knee osteoarthritis and tendinopathy being the most commonly studied conditions. Inconsistent reporting of PRP composition exists among all studies in medicine. Rigorous reporting in human clinical studies across all medical specialties is crucial for evaluating the effects of PRP and moving towards disease-specific and individualized treatment.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy*
  • Platelet Transfusion*
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma*
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / therapy*
  • Tendinopathy / therapy*

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.