Experience of microbiological screening of human hepatocytes for clinical transplantation

Cell Transplant. 2009;18(8):941-7. doi: 10.3727/096368909X471323. Epub 2009 May 6.


Hepatocyte transplantation is being used in patients with liver-based metabolic disorders and acute liver failure. Hepatocytes are isolated from unused donor liver tissue under GMP conditions. Cells must be free of microbiological contamination to be safe for human use. The experience of microbiological screening during 72 hepatocyte isolation procedures at one center is reported. Samples were taken at different stages of the process and tested using a blood culture bottle system and Gram stain. Bacterial contamination was detected in 37.5% of the UW organ preservative solutions used to transport the liver tissue to the Cell Isolation Unit. After tissue processing the contamination was reduced to 7% overall in the final hepatocyte product, irrespective of the presence of initial contamination of the transport solution. The most common organisms recovered were coagulase-negative staphylococci, a skin commensal. A total of 41 preparations of fresh or cryopreserved hepatocytes were used for cell transplantation in children with liver-based metabolic disorders without any evidence of sepsis due to infusion of hepatocytes. In conclusion, the incidence of bacterial contamination of the final product was low, confirming the suitability of the organs used, hepatocyte isolation procedure, and the environmental conditions of the clean room.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Cell Separation / methods
  • Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Cell Transplantation / standards
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Equipment Contamination / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hepatocytes / microbiology*
  • Hepatocytes / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Microbiological Techniques / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Safety
  • Tissue and Organ Harvesting / methods
  • Young Adult