Precipitation of a monoclonal antibody by soluble tungsten

J Pharm Sci. 2009 Sep;98(9):3290-301. doi: 10.1002/jps.21707.


Tungsten microparticles may be introduced into some pre-filled syringes during the creation of the needle hole. In turn, these microcontaminants may interact with protein therapeutics to produce visible particles. We found that soluble tungsten polyanions formed in acidic buffer below pH 6.0 can precipitate a monoclonal antibody within seconds. Soluble tungsten in pH 5.0 buffer at about 3 ppm was enough to cause precipitation of a mAb formulated at 0.02 mg/mL. The secondary structure of the protein was near-native in the collected precipitate. Our observations are consistent with the coagulation of a monoclonal antibody by tungsten polyanions. Tungsten-induced precipitation should only be a concern for proteins formulated below about pH 6.0 since tungsten polyanions are not formed at higher pHs. We speculate that the heterogenous nature of particle contamination within the poorly mixed syringe tip volume could mean that a specification for tungsten contamination based on the entire syringe volume is not appropriate. The potential potency of tungsten metal contamination is highlighted by the small number of particles that would be required to generate soluble tungsten levels needed to coagulate this antibody at pH 5.0.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / chemistry*
  • Chemical Precipitation
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / chemistry*
  • Oxides / chemistry
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Solubility
  • Tungsten / chemistry*
  • Tungsten Compounds / chemistry


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Oxides
  • Tungsten Compounds
  • sodium tungstate(VI)
  • tungsten oxide
  • Tungsten