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J Hosp Infect. 2011 Aug;78(4):251-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2011.03.021. Epub 2011 Jun 11.

Adsorption of prion and tissue proteins to surgical stainless steel surfaces and the efficacy of decontamination following dry and wet storage conditions.

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Environmental Healthcare Unit, School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.


Iatrogenic transmission of the infectious prion protein (PrP(Sc)) is a potential threat due to its resistance to many chemical and enzymatic decontamination protocols and its strong adhesive properties to stainless steel. The conditions in which surgical instruments are handled during and after surgery may affect the level of tissue protein, prion attachment and the efficacy of subsequent decontamination regimes. This study investigated the adhesion of tissue protein and prion-associated amyloid to surgical stainless steel with respect to time and various storage conditions, and the subsequent outcome on the efficacy of enzymatic cleaning chemistries. Surfaces were contaminated with ME7-infected brain homogenate and left to dry between 0 and 120 min at room temperature or 24 h, in dry or moist conditions. Residual contamination before and after cleaning was visualised using sensitive fluorescent staining and episcopic differential interference contrast/epifluorescence microscopy. Longer drying times increased both protein and prion amyloid adsorption and affected the efficacy of the cleaning chemistries tested. A moist environment post-contamination significantly reduced the attachment of both protein and prion amyloid to the surgical stainless steel surface. Maintaining moist conditions could potentially improve the subsequent decontamination of reusable surgical instruments, also reducing process time and cost.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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