Regeneration is the process of healing and renewal, something the human body does naturally. We are in a constant state of regeneration, replacing old cells with new ones. When the body is injured, a specific cascade of events occurs to heal the injury and restore us back to our healthy state. The manner in which the body recognizes injury, intervenes, and restores health is understood now more than ever. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) treatments are attempts to harness that healing potential. The closer a PRP treatment can mimic the body’s natural healing process, the more regenerative the treatment will be.
For healing to occur, a lot is going on at the cellular level. Bleeding needs to be controlled, bacteria need to be destroyed, debris from the injury needs to be removed, new blood vessels need to form, the injured tissue needs to regrow and learn to function like the uninjured tissue. Healing is a complex orchestration of many cells communicating with each other—a regenerative symphony, so to speak.
The cells responsible for coordinating the healing process are platelets circulating in the bloodstream. Each platelet contains reservoirs of signaling molecules called growth factors (GFs). Researchers have identified over 300 GFs which are essential in the healing process. Platelets can sense from the local environment what type of injury has occurred and selectively release certain growth factors specific to that injury.
PRP is a treatment designed to create a microenvironment in which the platelets sense that a specific injury needs to be repaired. That is why the PRP formulation is so important. RBCs tell platelets that active bleeding is going on. Neutrophils tell platelets that an infection is brewing. Monocytes tell platelets to stimulate tissue growth. A PRP formulation contaminated with cells that send the wrong signal or dilute the true signal will inhibit PRP’s true regenerative potential.
Research demonstrates the regenerative potential and clinical benefit of PRP. As we get closer and closer to delivering the ideal PRP formulation to a treatment site, we allow the healing process to occur more naturally, and the more chance we have of achieving true regeneration.