Environmental microbial contamination in a stem cell bank

Lett Appl Microbiol. 2007 Apr;44(4):379-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-765X.2006.02095.x.


Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the main environmental microbial contaminants of the clean rooms in our stem cell bank.

Methods and results: We have measured the microbial air contamination by both passive and active air sampling and the microbial monitoring of surfaces by means of Rodac plates. The environmental monitoring tests were carried out in accordance with the guidelines of European Pharmacopeia and US Pharmacopeia. The micro-organisms were identified by means of an automated system (VITEK 2). During the monitoring, the clean rooms are continually under good manufacturing practices specifications. The most frequent contaminants were Gram-positive cocci.

Conclusions: The main contaminants in our stem cell bank were coagulase-negative staphylococci and other opportunistic human pathogens. In order to assure the levels of potential contamination in both embryonic and adult stem cell lines, a continuous sampling of air particles and testing for viable microbiological contamination is necessary.

Significance and impact of the study: This study is the first evaluation of the environmental contaminants in stem cell banks and can serve as initial evaluation for these establishments. The introduction of environmental monitoring programmes in the processing of stem cell lines could diminish the risk of contamination in stem cell cultures.

MeSH terms

  • Air Microbiology*
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Biological Specimen Banks*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / standards
  • Cell Line
  • Environment, Controlled*
  • Environmental Monitoring / standards
  • Humans
  • Medical Laboratory Personnel
  • Stem Cells / microbiology*