Detection of Endotoxin in Nano-formulations Using Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate (LAL) Assays

J Vis Exp. 2019 Jan 30;(143). doi: 10.3791/58830.


When present in pharmaceutical products, a Gram-negative bacterial cell wall component endotoxin (often also called lipopolysaccharide) can cause inflammation, fever, hypo- or hypertension, and, in extreme cases, can lead to tissue and organ damage that may become fatal. The amounts of endotoxin in pharmaceutical products, therefore, are strictly regulated. Among the methods available for endotoxin detection and quantification, the Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate (LAL) assay is commonly used worldwide. While any pharmaceutical product can interfere with the LAL assay, nano-formulations represent a particular challenge due to their complexity. The purpose of this paper is to provide a practical guide to researchers inexperienced in estimating endotoxins in engineered nanomaterials and nanoparticle-formulated drugs. Herein, practical recommendations for performing three LAL formats including turbidity, chromogenic and gel-clot assays are discussed. These assays can be used to determine endotoxin contamination in nanotechnology-based drug products, vaccines, and adjuvants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Assay / methods*
  • Doxorubicin / analogs & derivatives
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology
  • Endotoxins / analysis*
  • Horseshoe Crabs / metabolism*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nephelometry and Turbidimetry
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacology


  • Endotoxins
  • liposomal doxorubicin
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Doxorubicin