Current technologies to endotoxin detection and removal for biopharmaceutical purification

Biotechnol Bioeng. 2020 Aug;117(8):2588-2609. doi: 10.1002/bit.27362. Epub 2020 May 16.


Endotoxins are the major contributors to the pyrogenic response caused by contaminated pharmaceutical products, formulation ingredients, and medical devices. Recombinant biopharmaceutical products are manufactured using living organisms, including Gram-negative bacteria. Upon the death of a Gram-negative bacterium, endotoxins (also known as lipopolysaccharides) in the outer cell membrane are released into the lysate where they can interact with and form bonds with biomolecules, including target therapeutic compounds. Endotoxin contamination of biologic products may also occur through water, raw materials such as excipients, media, additives, sera, equipment, containers closure systems, and expression systems used in manufacturing. The manufacturing process is, therefore, in critical need of methods to reduce and remove endotoxins by monitoring raw materials and in-process intermediates at critical steps, in addition to final drug product release testing. This review paper highlights a discussion on three major topics about endotoxin detection techniques, upstream processes for the production of therapeutic molecules, and downstream processes to eliminate endotoxins during product purification. Finally, we have evaluated the effectiveness of endotoxin removal processes from a perspective of high purity and low cost.

Keywords: Gram-negative bacteria; biopharmaceutical; biosensors; chromatography; downstream purification; endotoxin; endotoxin detection; endotoxin removal; lipopolysaccharides; protein purification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Products* / chemistry
  • Biological Products* / standards
  • Biosensing Techniques
  • Biotechnology
  • Cattle
  • Chromatography
  • Drug Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Endotoxins* / analysis
  • Endotoxins* / isolation & purification
  • Limulus Test
  • Rabbits


  • Biological Products
  • Endotoxins