Screening cell lines

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The text on this page is taken from an informal compilation of opinions of contributors to the online VOLE List. As such, they are not peer reviewed and may contain differences of opinion. Those wishing to contact the list may contact Adrian Smith.

In terms of screening animal and human-derived cell lines, which  pathogens are you testing for and how often? Any other advice regarding the entry of cell lines into an animal facility would be greatly appreciated.

Talking about rodent pathogens, biologicals in general (not only cells) are known to be a possible source of contamination in animal facility. There are many reports in the literature, from LCMV, to parvovirus back to Ectromelia. The cumulative risk (prevalence) is around 3% for viruses (for Mycoplasma spp. Is definitely higher) so more risky than importing animals from other institutions, and also for viruses that are not in the FELASA recommendations.

Talking about human pathogens, the risk is roughly the same, with the exception of C. bovis (higher prevalence, around 5%) and, apart from the risks associated with health and safety, there are risks for data, for the animals (there are some reports of human pathogens replicating in animals, e.g. EBV). Please also consider the possibility of viral replication in any humanised model.

If cells, biological materials and tissues are not screened before acquisition, it is advisable to test them. At least once. A virus should not be able to infect a cell in culture and, if you are running routine health screening of animals, this would minimise the risk of cells being infected in vivo.