Optimize Platelet-Rich Plasma for Best Results

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is becoming a common regenerative medical therapy for treating a wide range of injuries in athletic horses; however, not all PRP is created equal. During a presentation at the 2011 North American Veterinary Regenerative Medicine Association Conference, held June 2-4, 2011 in Lexington, Ky., Taralyn McCarrel, DVM, a surgical resident at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, in Lexington, discussed the benefits of PRP optimization.

"A variety of commercial PRP products are available, but each of these preparations is different in terms of the number of platelets, growth factors, and white and red blood cells, to name only a few important differences," relayed Fortier, an associate professor of large animal surgery at Cornell University, who co-authored the abstract with McCarrel.

Other important differences between different PRP preparations used in horses include:

  • Recommended timing of first treatment;
  • Treatment intervals;
  • Volume of injection; and
  • Cost.

If PRP is optimized in terms of how it is prepared, how many platelets are used to treat a horse, and how frequently horses need to be treated for a particular injury, then veterinarians will be able to provide uniform recommendations to all horse owners.

"The equine industry needs PRP to be optimized in a step-wise manner to achieve maximal therapeutic benefit," Fortier added. "Although this is a tedious task, it is a logical starting place and a necessary process."

One important consideration for PRP optimization involves the concentration of white blood cells (WBCs). Although WBCs are often included because of their anti-microbial properties, which are believed to improve healing in infected wounds (one common use of PRP), PRP is often used to treat uninfected tendons or joints. Thus, the most recent data on PRP generated by Fortier's laboratory indicates that PRP low in WBCs is more beneficial in tendon healing.

At present, the commercial growth of PRP products exceeds substantial research. Horse owners are encouraged with work with a veterinarian experienced in PRP when using this therapy.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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