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 proliferations of various cells (stem cells, epidermal cells, bone cells)
Enhance production of collagen
Stimulate blood vessel formation
For many years autologous blood product, or blood components derived from the patient and then delivered to a point of care, have created growing interest for use in a number of orthopaedic procedures. The aim of technologies like ACP (Autologous Conditioned 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.