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Mycoplasma Contamination in Cell Cultures 


One of the most common contaminants present in cell culture laboratories are mycoplasma. A conservative estimate states that between 15-35% of all continuous cell cultures are contaminated with mycoplasma1, some estimates are even higher (up to 80% in some countries2). Read more...


Mycoplasma Effects on Your Cell Culture


Typical routes of infection are cross-contamination from untested infected cells (e.g. via aerosols generated during pipetting, use of same media bottles, handling of more than one cell type at one time), contaminated materials, contaminated donor tissue (<1%) or direct infection from the researcher. The primary source is normally cross-contamination from infected cultures. Mycoplasma grow slowly and do not kill the cells outright but affect various cellular parameters 1,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 (see figure). Thus, mycoplasma contaminations can seriously impact the reliability, reproducibility, and consistency of experimental results, representing a major problem for basic research as well as for the manufacturing of bioproducts. Standard testing for mycoplasma is an important quality control.


Mycoplasma: Visual representing a healthy cell 



Mycoplasma – The Invisible Enemy


Even at very high concentrations (> 107 cfu/ml) mycoplasma are not visible by microscopy. They do not cause visible changes in the growth media that are commonly associated with bacterial and fungal contamination, such a turbidity or pH changes1.  Therefore contaminations are very difficult to detect and the presence of mycoplasma can remain undiscovered for months. As mycoplasma compete with cells for the nutrients in culture media, one of the first visible signs is a slowdown in cell proliferation. Other indications of contamination include cell aggregation, morphological changes or poor transfection efficiencies with cells that originally transfected well.



Detect, Eliminate and Prevent Mycoplasma Contamination


Lonza provides a powerful product offering for reliable detection and successful elimination and prevention of mycoplasma contaminations:  



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Mycoplasma References


1) Drexler HG, Uphof CC (2002). Cytotechnology 39: 75–90

2) Koshimizu K, Kotani H (1981). In: Procedures for the Isolation and Identification of Human, Animal and Plant Mycoplasmas (Nakamura, M., ed.), Saikon, Tokyo, 87-102

3) Gong H et al. (1999). Biochem Biophys Res Comm 261: 10-14

4) Ben-Menachem G et al. (2001). FEMS Microbiol Letters 201: 157-162

5) McGarrity MF et al. (1984). In Vitro 20: 1-18

6) Sokolova IA et al. (1998). Immunol Cell Biol 76: 526-534

7) Doersen CJ, Stanbridge EJ (1981). Mol Cell Biol 1: 321-329

8) Stanbridge EJ (1971). Bacteriological Reviews 35): 206-227

9) Darin N et al. (2003). BMC Biochem 4:15

10) Rottem S (2003). Physiol Rev 83: 417-432

11) Miller C et al.(2003). Biotechniques 35:812-814