Mycoplasma suppression of THP-1 Cell TLR responses is corrected with antibiotics

PLoS One. 2010 Mar 25;5(3):e9900. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009900.


Mycoplasma contamination of cultured cell lines is a serious problem in research, altering cellular response to different stimuli thus compromising experimental results. We found that chronic mycoplasma contamination of THP-1 cells suppresses responses of THP-1 cells to TLR stimuli. For example, E. coli LPS induced IL-1 beta was suppressed by 6 fold and IL-8 by 10 fold in mycoplasma positive THP-1 cells. Responses to live F. novicida challenge were suppressed by 50-fold and 40-fold respectively for IL-1beta and IL-8. Basal TLR4 expression level in THP-1 cells was decreased by mycoplasma by 2.4-fold (p = 0.0003). Importantly, cell responses to pathogen associated molecular patterns are completely restored by mycoplasma clearance with Plasmocin. Thus, routine screening of cell lines for mycoplasma is important for the maintenance of reliable experimental data and contaminated cell lines can be restored to their baseline function with antibiotic clearance of mycoplasma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Line
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Francisella / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / metabolism
  • Macrolides / pharmacology*
  • Mycoplasma / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Toll-Like Receptors / biosynthesis*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-8
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Macrolides
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • plasmocin