Detection of low level bacteria in red blood cell concentrates
Bacterial contamination remains one of the major risks associated with blood product transfusion. The kinetics of bacterial growth in red blood cell concentrates (RBCC) is different than otherwise due to storage at 4°C, conditions in which most bacteria do not survive. Psychrophilic bacteria such as Yersinia enterocolitica, however, can proliferate from a very low level of contamination to clinically significant levels at 4°C and are known to cause severe transfusion-related infections. A screening method allowing the early detection of very low levels of bacteria in RBCC would improve transfusion safety.
In a paper published recently the Scansystem RBC system was evaluated for the for detection of low levels of bacteria in RBCC.
The Scansystem RBC kit protocol requires three steps, i.e., the agglutination and selective removal of RBCs, a labeling stage during which bacteria are labeled with a DNA-specific fluorophore, and finally recovery of bacteria on the surface of a black membrane for analysis using the Scansystem. The entire procedure from sampling to result can be completed in 90 min. Both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria in RBCC are detected with a higher sensitivity than with currently available culture-based methods.
The Scansystem RBC kit is shown to be sensitive enough to identify low-level bacterial contamination in a single unit tested in a pool of up to 20 RBCC samples (detection limit of between 1 and 10 CFU/ml depending on the bacterial strain). The method therefore lends itself to incorporation into high-sample-throughput screening programs.
Reference: Detection of Bacteria in Red Blood Cell Concentrates by the Scansystem Method
S. Ribault, A. Faucon, L. Grave, P. Nannini, and I. Besson Faure
Journal of Clinical Microbiology, May 2005, p. 2251-2 255, Vol. 43, No. 5
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Posted on May 9, 2005