Methods of endotoxin removal from biological preparations: a review

J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2007;10(3):388-404.


Purpose: Endotoxins, also called lipopolysaccharides (LPS), are major contaminants found in commercially available proteins or biologically active substances, which often complicate study of the biological effects of the main ingredient. The presence of small amounts of endotoxin in recombinant protein preparations can cause side effects in host organism such as endotoxin shock, tissue injury, and even death. Due to these reactions, it is essential to remove endotoxins from drugs, injectables, and other biological and pharmaceutical products. An overview of this subject is provided by this article.

Methods: An extensive review of literature with regard to methods for removal of endotoxin from biotechnological preparations was carried out.

Results: A short history of endotoxin is presented first. This is followed by a review of chemical and physical properties of endotoxin and its pathophysiological effects when the body is exposed to LPS excessively or systemically. The techniques of endotoxin determination and interaction of endotoxin with proteins is also presented, taking into consideration the established techniques as well as the state of the art technology in this field. A review of techniques of endotoxin removal from biotechnological preparations is described, emphasizing how endotoxin removal can be carried out in an economical way based on a number of processes discussed in the literature (e.g., adsorption, two-phase partitioning, ultrafiltration and chromatography). Different methods are mentioned with relatively high protein recoveries; however, special attention is given to two-phase aqueous micellar systems, which are valuable tools for endotoxin removal from pharmaceutical proteins on a small scale because they provide a mild environment for biological materials.

Conclusions: Efficient and cost-effective removal of endotoxins from pharmaceutical and biotechnology preparations is challenging. Despite development of novel methods, such as the two-phase aqueous micellar systems, in recent years, more research is needed in this field.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Products / standards*
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Drug Contamination*
  • Endotoxins* / chemistry
  • Endotoxins* / history
  • Endotoxins* / toxicity
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Micelles
  • Octoxynol
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Quality Control
  • Ultrafiltration


  • Biological Products
  • Endotoxins
  • Micelles
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Octoxynol
  • Nonidet P-40