Yvette Uribe demonstrates how the sample tubes fit inside the centrifuge for spinning.

To share an inside look into our research lab, we thought it would be interesting to discuss some of our lab equipment and explain how it works and what it is used for. This article explores one of our most useful pieces of lab equipment: the centrifuge machine. The centrifuge machine is used to spin samples of whole blood or bone marrow aspirate used for Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC) research. The tubes fit snuggly into the tub, which resembles the inside of a washing machine – tubes must be inserted on opposite sides for balance and then the machine is set for a particular speed and spin time. The whole blood or bone marrow aspirate are then spun at a high velocity (a process called “centrifugal force”) for approximately 15 minutes in order to separate components in each sample.

For PRP, the blood is separated into three parts: plasma, red blood cells and white blood cells. The goal of most PRP preparations is to collect about 1 million platelets. For BMAC, we can separate the bone marrow aspirate into several fractions as well: red blood cells, buffy coat (white blood cells & stem cells), platelets, plasma and adipose fractions (a fat layer that forms on top of the plasma).

Separating components is necessary in order to isolate and concentrate the part of the blood or bone marrow aspirate (platelets or stem cells) that will be injected into the site of injured tissue. In our research, the centrifuge machine is used any time we study platelets or stem cells to advance our understanding of regenerative medicine. Some of NMRF’s lab research projects involving the study of platelets or stem cells include:

  • Disc Study: This project is a study of the interactions between platelets, white blood cells and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in intervertebral discs.
  • Platelets/Anesthetic Study: In this study, we look at how certain anesthetics, including lidocaine, bupivacaine and ropivacaine alter platelet function.
  • Platelet Quantification Study: This is a methods study in which we seek to educate the medical and scientific community on the pros and cons of using three different types of equipment that are used to count platelets: Hematology counter, fluorescence microscope and flow cytometer.

For more information on these studies, please visit the “Current Research” page of our website.

To learn how platelets are used to heal the body, see “What Are Platelets?” from our Winter 2020 Newsletter.

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