Cell transplantation

Transplantation of human fetal tissue for neurodegenerative diseases: validation of a new protocol for microbiological analysis and bacterial decontamination.

PMID 23635602


Restorative cell therapy concepts in neurodegenerative diseases are aimed at replacing lost neurons. Despite advances in research on pluripotent stem cells, fetal tissue from routine elective abortions is still regarded as the only safe cell source. Progenitor cells isolated from distinct first-trimester fetal CNS regions have already been used in clinical trials and will be used again in a new multicenter trial funded by the European Union (TRANSEURO). Bacterial contamination of human fetal tissue poses a potential risk of causing infections in the brain of the recipient. Thus, effective methods of microbial decontamination and validation of these methods are required prior to approval of a neurorestorative cell therapy trial. We have developed a protocol consisting of subsequent washing steps at different stages of tissue processing. Efficacy of microbial decontamination was assessed on rat embryonic tissue incubated with high concentrations of defined microbe solutions including representative bacterial and fungal species. Experimental microbial contamination was reduced by several log ranks. Subsequently, we have analyzed the spectrum of microbial contamination and the effect of subsequent washing steps on aborted human fetal tissue; 47.7% of the samples taken during human fetal tissue processing were positive for a microbial contamination, but after washing, no sample exhibited bacterial growth. Our data suggest that human fetal tissue for neural repair can carry microbes of various species, highlighting the need for decontamination procedures. The decontamination protocol described in this report has been shown to be effective as no microbes could be detected at the end of the procedure.