Cell culture contamination

Methods Mol Biol. 2011:731:79-91. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-080-5_7.


Microbial contamination is a major issue in cell culture, but there are a range of procedures which can be adopted to prevent or eliminate contamination. Contamination may arise from the operator and the laboratory environment, from other cells used in the laboratory, and from reagents. Some infections may present a risk to laboratory workers: containment and aseptic technique are the key defence against such risks. Remedial management of suspected infection may simply mean discarding a single potentially infected culture. However, if a more widespread problem is identified, then all contaminated cultures and associated unused media that have been opened during this period should be discarded, equipment should be inspected and cleaned, cell culture operations reviewed, and isolation from other laboratories instituted until the problem is solved. Attention to training of staff, laboratory layout, appropriate use of quarantine for new cultures or cell lines, cleaning and maintenance, and quality control are important factors in preventing contamination in cell culture laboratories.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured / microbiology*
  • Disinfection
  • Education
  • Equipment Contamination / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Laboratories
  • Quality Control
  • Quarantine


  • Indicators and Reagents