ask-the-doc

PRP vs. Stem Cell Therapy: When is PRP appropriate and when is it not?

Dr. McKenna:

It’s really important to point out that PRP, which contains growth factors spun down from whole blood, is not a stem cell product and may contain at best a few CD34+ cells. Therefore, PRP should never be advertised as a stem cell product.

Because bone marrow consists of greater than 90% whole blood, there is nothing in PRP that isn’t in the bone marrow in greater quantities. The biggest distinction is that bone marrow contains mesenchymal stem cells and other types of stem cells. PRP does not.

PRP has been shown to speed up repair, but bone marrow aspirate does it faster and with a lower infection rate because it contains mesenchymal stem cells and the antimicrobial peptide LL-37 (along with many other factors), which is cytoprotective (protects cells).

Basically, anything that PRP does, BMAC does better, but PRP can be used as a cheaper stopgap alternative for inflammatory problems. However, if economics were not a concern, then BMAC with AlphaGEMs would be my first choice.