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Vox Sang. 2008 Oct;95(3):181-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1423-0410.2008.01087.x.

Sterility screening of platelet concentrates: questioning the optimal test strategy.

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Institut für Laboratoriums- und Transfusionsmedizin, Herz- und Diabeteszentrum Nordrhein-Westfalen, Universitätsklinik der Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Bad Oeynhausen, Germany.



Routine bacterial monitoring of apheresis platelet concentrates (APC) and pooled platelet concentrates (PPC) was introduced in two German blood services using culture and real-time reverse transcriptase (RT)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The results of testing are reviewed and used to discuss different strategies for detection of bacterial contamination of PCs.


Two thousand three hundred and sixty-two APCs and 1993 PPCs have been tested by real-time RT-PCR and the BacT/Alert automated culturing system using aerobic and anaerobic culture bottles. After standard processing of PCs and storage of 22-24 h at 20-24 degrees C with agitation, samples were taken under aseptic conditions. Reactive culture bottles were confirmed as positive and bacterial isolates were identified by 16S rRNA analysis and biochemical tests.


Seventeen of 2362 tested APCs were reactive in culture and one also in RT-PCR. Of these, 13 APCs were identified as initially positive as Staphylococcus warneri (n = 1, positive in aerobic and anaerobic culture), Propionibacterium acnes (n = 12, positive only in anaerobic culture) and four were initially reactive. Two of 1993 PPCs were initially reactive (anaerobic) and two more were confirmed positive (anaerobic) from a repeat culture and identified as P. acnes. All remaining specimens were tested negative.


Our study demonstrates that the predominant organisms implicated in platelet bacterial contamination are part of the human skin flora. Inoculating blood culture systems and anaerobic cultivation detects these bacteria after approximately 3-7 days when blood products have been transfused. Based on the presented data different screening strategies are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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