The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 34 , Issue 4 , 801 - 813

Biologic Therapies for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis

Delanois, Ronald E. et al.


The use of biologic therapies for the management of knee osteoarthritis has increased, despite insufficient evidence of efficacy. Our aim was to complete a systematic review and analysis of reports utilizing the highest level-of-evidence evaluating: (1) platelet-rich plasma injections (PRPs); (2) bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs); (3) adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSCs); and (4) amnion-derived mesenchymal stem cells (AMSCs).


PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases were queried for studies evaluating PRP injections, BMSCs, ADSCs, and AMSCs in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Of 1009 studies identified within the last 5 years, 123 met inclusion criteria. A comprehensive analysis of all levels-of-evidence was performed, as well as separate analysis on level-of-evidence I studies. Level-of-evidence was determined by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons classification system.


Although the majority of PRP reports demonstrated improvements in pain and/or function, others revealed no substantial improvements. Similar findings were noted for BMSCs, ADSCs, and AMSCs. Assessments of BMSC studies yielded majority with positive clinical results, although short-lived. Studies on ADSCs revealed improved clinical outcomes, but equivocal radiographic outcomes. Studies evaluating AMSCs demonstrated improvements in pain and function, and decreased radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis.


Despite some promising early results for PRP, BMSC, ADSC, and AMSC therapies, the majority of level-of-evidence I studies have multiple problems: small sample sizes, potentially inappropriate control cohorts, short-term follow-up, and so on. Despite the limitations, there still appears to be evidence justifying their use for knee osteoarthritis management. More high-level, larger human studies utilizing standardized protocols are needed.

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