To perform a network meta-analysis to evaluate clinical efficacy and treatment related adverse events (AEs) of intra-articular hyaluronic acid (HA), leukocyte-poor platelet-rich plasma (LP-PRP), leukocyte-rich platelet-rich plasma (LR-PRP), bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs), adipose mesenchymal stem cells (AD-MSCs) and saline (placebo) during 6 and 12 months of follow-up.
Six databases were searched for randomized controlled trials. Outcome assessment included the visual analog scale (VAS) score, Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis (WOMAC) pain subscore, WOMAC score, International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) subjective score, and treatment-related AEs. Main inclusion criteria were at least one of the aforementioned outcome measurements, a minimum follow-up period of 5 months, and >80% patient follow-up. Treatments combined with the use of other operations or drugs were excluded.
Forty-three studies meeting the eligibility criteria were included. At 6-months, VAS scores and WOMAC pain subscores showed that AD-MSCs were the best treatment option (SUCRA=96.7%, SUCRA=85.3%, respectively). According to WOMAC scores and subjective IKDC scores, LP-PRP was the most effective treatment (SUCRA=86.0%, SUCRA=80.5%, respectively). At 12-months, only AD-MSCs were associated with improved VAS scores compared with the placebo (WMD=-20.93, 95%CrI(-41.71, -0.78)). Both LP-PRP and AD-MSCs were more beneficial than the placebo for improving WOMAC pain subscores (WMD=-30.08, 95%CrI(-53.59, -6.25); WMD=-34.85, 95%CrI(-68.03, -4.86), respectively). For WOMAC scores, LP-PRP and LR-PRP were significantly associated with improved WOMAC scores compared with the placebo after sensitivity analysis was performed (WMD=-35.26, 95%Cr(-64.99, -6.01); WMD=-38.69, 95%CrI(-76.21, -2.76)). LP-PRP exhibited relatively better efficacy in improving subjective IKDC scores than the placebo (WMD=13.67, 95%CrI(4.05, 23.39). Regarding safety, all treatments except for LP-PRP (relative risk=1.83, 95%CrI(0.89, 4.64)) increased treatment-related AEs compared with the placebo.
Based on the results of current research findings, during 6 months of follow-up, AD-MSCs relieve pain the best; LP-PRP was most effective for functional improvement. During the 12-month follow-up, both AD-MSCs and LP-PRP showed potential clinical pain relief effects; functional improvement was achieved with LP-PRP. Unfortunately, AD-MSC/LP-PRP functional comparisons were only based on WOMAC scores due to missing IKDC scores. BM-MSCs seem to have potentially beneficial effects, but the wide credibility interval make it impossible to draw a well-supported conclusion. HA viscosupplementation clinical efficacy was lower than that of biological agents during follow-up, which may be related to the properties of the drugs. Considering the evaluation of treatment-related AEs, LP-PRP is the most advisable choice; although the AEs of these treatments are not serious, they may affect treatment compliance and satisfaction.
Level II, meta-analysis of Level I and II studies.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.