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Transfusion. 2011 Oct;51(10):2118-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1537-2995.2011.03139.x. Epub 2011 Apr 19.

Molecular relatedness of Propionibacterium species isolated from blood products and on the skin of blood donors.

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Department of Blood Cell Research, Sanquin Research, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



In this study it was investigated whether Propionibacterium acnes present in platelet concentrates (PCs) and related red blood cells (RBCs), originate from the skin of the donor.


P. acnes that were cultured throughout 2007 and 2008 from PCs and their accompanying RBCs and in 2010 from the phlebotomy site of a selection of the respective donors (n = 22) were typed by amplified fragment length polymorphism. A part of the strains was also determined to species level by sequencing of the 16S rRNA and recA genes.


Three different phylogenetic groups of P. acnes were found. The distribution of the P. acnes in three groups was confirmed by sequencing of the recA gene. All strains that were found in PCs and their accompanying RBCs were identical, which indicates that the strain is already present in the whole blood donation. P. acnes could be found on the skin of almost all screened donors. In eight of 22 cases (36.4%), one of the strains from the donor skin was identical to the strains found in PCs and their accompanying RBCs. In two other cases the strains belonged to the same phylogenetic group.


This study supports the theory that the source of P. acnes contamination is in many cases the skin of the donor. However, further study is necessary to rule out other sources of contamination. Because it is difficult to prevent bacterial contamination by P. acnes completely, it is necessary to further investigate the clinical significance of blood products contaminated with P. acnes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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