• Nevenka Velickova University “Goce Delcev”
  • Misko Milev University “Goce Delcev”
  • Gorgi Sumanov University “Goce Delcev”
  • Biljana Petrova University “Goce Delcev”
Keywords: mycoplasma, contamination, antibiotics, human cell cultures, lymphocytes


Introduction: Mycoplasma species often contaminate cell cultures and other cell-derived biological substances, leading to detrimental effects on the host that include changes in growth, morphology, metabolism and protein synthesis. In cell cultures, mycoplasma are extracellular parasites, usually attached to the external surface of a cell membrane. Many researchers use a mixture of penicillin and streptomycin in the cell culture to prevent contamination.

Material and methods: We prepared cell cultures of lymphocytes from peripheral blood of 12 subjects and used micronucleus, assay which is the standard method, for detection of micronuclei in binuclear lymphocytes.

Results: Use of standard antibiotics does not protect cell cultures against mycoplasma contamination. Penicillin has no effect on mycoplasma since mycoplasma lack cell wall. Streptomycin inhibits about half the mycoplasma strains but is ineffective against others. In fact, mycoplasma is generally resistant to most antibiotic mixtures commonly used in cell culture. We didn’t find any mycoplasma contamination in the cell culture where penicillin-streptomycin mixture was absent, but confirmed infection in the culture containing mixture of antibiotics.

Conclusion: Antibiotics and mixture of antibiotics like penicillin-streptomycin mixture does not protect the cell culture against mycoplasma contamination. Hence, contamination can spread rapidly to other cell lines through aerosol droplet dispersion.


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