INTRODUCTION: Platelet‐rich plasma (PRP) is a fraction of plasma, in which several growth factors are concentrated at high level. Recently, the serum isolated from PRP (PRP‐serum) has been demonstrated to affect the metabolism of intervertebral disc cells in vitro. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of PRP‐serum on the progression of disc degeneration in the rabbit anular needle puncture model.
METHODS: Twelve New Zealand white rabbits received an anular puncture in 2 noncontiguous discs to induce disc degeneration. Fresh blood was drawn to isolate autologous PRP and serum. PRP and PPP (platelet poor plasma) were prepared using two centrifugation techniques. After clot formation by adding autologous serum, the PRP‐ and PPP‐serum was isolated from the clotted PRP and PPP by centrifugation. Four weeks after the surgery, either PPP‐ or PRP‐serum was injected into the punctured discs. The discs injected with PBS were used as control. Lateral X‐rays of the lumbar spine were taken every two weeks to measure disc height. MRI assessment (T2‐quantification) was performed 12 weeks after the initial puncture.
RESULTS: The anular puncture induced a consistent disc narrowing within 4 weeks. PRP‐serum induced a statistically significant restoration of disc height (12W; % disc height index; PBS: 71%, PPP: 80%, PRP: 90%, p<0.05 vs. PBS and PPP). In T2‐quantification, the mean T2‐value of PPP‐ and PPP‐serum‐injected discs were significantly higher compared to those of PBS; no significant differences between the PPP‐ and PRP‐serum‐injected discs were found.
DISCUSSION: We present results showing that the intra‐discal injection of PRP‐serum is effective for restoring disc height in the rabbit anular puncture model. MRI analysis showed that both PPP‐ and PRP‐serum equally stimulated the T2‐value. The results of this showed that the application of autologous PRP‐serum is effective for IVD therapy, is safe and immediately available for clinical application.