Mycoplasma contamination of cell cultures: Incidence, sources, effects, detection, elimination, prevention

Cytotechnology. 2002 Jul;39(2):75-90. doi: 10.1023/A:1022913015916.


The contamination of cell cultures by mycoplasmas remains a major problem in cell culture. Mycoplasmas can produce a virtually unlimited variety of effects in the cultures they infect. These organisms are resistant to most antibiotics commonly employed in cell cultures. Here we provide a concise overview of the current knowledge on: (1) the incidence and sources of mycoplasma contamination in cell cultures, the mycoplasma species most commonly detected in cell cultures, and the effects of mycoplasmas on the function and activities of infected cell cultures; (2) the various techniques available for the detection of mycoplasmas with particular emphasis on the most reliable detection methods; (3) the various methods available for the elimination of mycoplasmas highlighting antibiotic treatment; and (4) the recommended procedures and working protocols for the detection, elimination and prevention of mycoplasma contamination. The availability of accurate, sensitive and reliable detection methods and the application of robust and successful elimination methods provide powerful means for overcoming the problem of mycoplasma contamination in cell cultures.