Healing injuries involves a well-orchestrated and complex series of events where proteins in the blood called growth factors act as messengers, regulating the entire process. Many growth factors involved in the healing process are derived from small cells called platelets. Platelets, also referred to as thrombocytes, are small, colorless cells present in blood. They are formed in the bone marrow by pinching off pieces of cytoplasm that are then released into the blood stream. Normally, in a resting state, platelets are not active. However, when an injury occurs, the platelets are activated, releasing proliferative growth factors which then signal the healing process to begin. Platelets contain many growth factors that are known to be important parts of the healing process. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-B), and epidermal growth factor (EGF), are just a few of the beneficial proteins released by platelets.
The main functions of these proteins are:
- To induce growth of various cells (stem cells, epidermal cells, bone cells)
- Enhance production of collagen
- Stimulate blood vessel formation
For many years, blood components derived from the patient and then delivered to a point of care have created growing interest for use in a number of orthopedic procedures. The aim of technologies like ACP (Autologous Conditioned Plasma) – or the other term used is PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) – is to provide physicians with a method of providing concentrated levels of beneficial growth factors for use at the point of care. Increased levels of growth factors improve signaling and recruitment of cells to an injury site and optimize the environment for healing.
Autologous Conditioned Plasma (ACP)
The Autologous Conditioned Plasma (ACP) System is a device that is used by the physician to concentrate platelets and growth factors within a plasma layer separate from white and red blood cells. This plasma may then be used by the physician at the point of treatment for a variety of applications. It has been shown that delivering concentrated growth factors to a surgical site may improve the environment for healing. The process begins by removing a very small amount of blood from the patient in a manner similar to a laboratory blood test. The syringe is then placed in a centrifuge and spun for 5 minutes, concentrating the platelets and growth factors within the plasma layer, separate from other blood components. The yellow plasma layer is then injected at the point of treatment.