Department of Human and Animal Cell Lines, Leibniz Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany.
A high percentage of cell lines are chronically infected with various mycoplasma species. The addition of antibiotics that are particularly effective against these contaminants to the culture medium during a limited period of time is a simple, inexpensive, and very practical approach for decontaminating cell cultures. Here, we examined the effectiveness of the new antimycoplasma compound Plasmocin that has been employed routinely to cleanse chronically infected cell lines. In a first round of treatment 45 out of 58 (78%) mycoplasma-positive cell lines could be cured. In a second attempt using back-up cryopreserved original cells, four additional cell lines were cured; thus, the overall cure rate was 84%. Even if the mycoplasma contamination was not eradicated by Plasmocin, the parallel treatment with several other antibiotics (Baytril, BM-Cyclin, Ciprobay, MRA, or MycoZap) led to the cure of all 58 cell lines. The successful decontamination was permanent as mycoplasmas were no longer detected at day +14 posttreatment and at later time points as examined by PCR which is the most sensitive and specific mycoplasma detection method. Collectively, our results highlight certain antibiotics as effective antimycoplasma reagents and support the therapeutic rationale for their use in the eradication of this notorious cell culture contaminant.