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Testing cell lines for viruses before use
Should I test ATCC cell lines for viruses before using them in the lab?

Viral testing should be performed, especially when culturing cell lines in an animal facility or in vivo conditions. As of January 2010, all human cell lines accessioned in the ATCC general collection are tested for the adventitious agents HIV, HepB, HepC, HPV, EBV, and CMV. As of August 2012, the Hepatitis C test was removed from the ATCC virus panel test.  This decision was based on the reason that there are no known culture cell lines that support the replication of the Hepatitis C virus.

Please note that all adventitious agents may not be detected through viral testing. For this reason we strongly recommend that all human and other primate cell lines be handled at the same biosafety level as a cell line known to carry HIV or hepatitis virus. Procedures such as egg inoculation, hemadsorption, and co-cultivation with indicator cells, are just a few ways to test cell lines for animal viruses. We do distribute a few cell lines, which have been screened and found negative for viruses using the procedures mentioned above. However, in general we do not test for animal viruses, therefore not all of our cell lines have been tested for animal viruses and should be treated accordingly. With infectious virus assays or viral antigen assays, even a negative test result may leave open the possible existence of a latent viral genome. Thus, it is best to use appropriate precautions when handling any human cell line.

Concerning BVDV, the virus is present in most serum samples, often at very low levels. Hence, it is likely present in all cell lines in which it can replicate, unless the cultures have been grown in rigidly tested sera or sera of non-bovine origins. A paper describing a test of some ATCC lines was published in 1994 [S.R. Bolin et al. (1994) Survey of cell lines in the American Type Culture Collection for bovine viral diarrhea virus. J. Virol. Methods 48:211]. Lines that are positive for BVDV are so described in the ATCC catalog descriptions, as well.

ATCC does not MAP test cell lines although a few of our murine lines have been screened for Ectromelia virus at the NIH and ATCC, and tests have been negative [Buller, R.M.L., et al. (1987) Observations on the replication of Ectromelia virus in mouse-derived cell lines: Implications for epidemiology of mousepox. Lab. Animal Sci. 37:28]. If you intend to inoculate cell lines obtained from the ATCC into mice and return the mice to non-quarantined facilities with other animals, the inoculum should be MAP tested either in house or commercially elsewhere.

Date Created07/17/2012 07:11 PM
Date Updated12/29/2014 01:22 PM

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