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Detection of Microbial Contamination During Human Islet Isolation

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Current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) islet processing facilities provide an ultraclean environment for the safe production of clinical grade islets for transplantation into immunosuppressed diabetic recipients. The objective of this study was to monitor the rate of microbial contamination in islet products after implementation of good manufacturing practice conditions. Fluid samples for microbial contamination were collected at the following steps: from the pancreas transport solution upon arrival of the organ (n = 157), after surface decontamination of the pancreas with antiseptic agents (n = 89), from islet supernatant at the end of the isolation (n = 104), and from islet supernatant as a final transplantable product after culture (n = 53). Bacterial, fungal, and mycoplasma cultures were conducted for 2, 2, and 3 weeks, respectively. Microbial contamination was detected in 31% of transport solution. The contamination was not associated with the presence of the duodenum during the preservation, cold ischemia time, or procurement team (local vs. distant). Surface decontamination of the pancreas resulted in clearance of 92% of the microbial contamination. Six preparations at the end of the isolation revealed microbial growth. All were de novo contamination during the processing. Fifty-three preparations that met our release criteria in terms of product sterility were transplanted into type 1 diabetic patients. In two instances, positive culture of the islet preparation was reported after transplantation had occurred. No patient showed any clinical findings suggestive of infection or any radiological abnormalities suggestive of abscess; a single dose of antibiotic coverage was given routinely to recipients prior to islet infusion. Although transport solution carries a high risk of microbial contamination, most contaminants become undetectable during islet processing. Microbial contamination in final products is rare, but de novo contamination still occurs during processing even under cGMP conditions.

Keywords: Antibiotics; Islet isolation; Microbial contamination; Quality control

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Clinical Islet Transplant Program, University of Alberta and Capital Health Authority, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.
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