Quality control in tissue culture: an integrated approach

Abstract: Quality influences the reliability and reproducibility of data derived from cell culture. There are many ways to improve quality from maintenance of cell culture facilities through to improving the proficiency of scientists with standardised training protocols and a serious integrated approach is recommended to control the variables inherent in this technique.

At our Institute we have developed a synergistic approach to quality where laboratories and shared facilities are centrally maintained cleaned and serviced on a regular basis and access to biobanking is strictly controlled.
We provide centralised weekly mycoplasma testing, a monthly full STR (short Tandem Repeat) cell line authentication service and a weekly Para DNA rapid STR profiling service. Access to our liquid nitrogen cryostorage facility is restricted and controlled. Only tested cells are approved to be stored and a strict quarantine policy is applied to all new cell lines that coming into the Institute (excluding commercially purchased certified cell lines).
We have introduced and recommend the following workflow: Each new cell line received should be authenticated and tested for mycoplasma contamination. Mycoplasma testing should then be performed regularly and always before a batch of cells is stored in liquid nitrogen. Authentication should also be performed on a regular basis and we use the rapid Para DNA STR profiler. Before publication another full STR profile should be obtained.
During the 10 years that we have operated this quality system we have tested a total of 10500 samples for mycoplasma with 2% testing positive. We have also STR profiled over 1500 cell lines of which 4% were found to be misidentified.

In conclusion our integrated quality management approach including maintenance of facilities, strict quality control testing and comprehensive training and support has proved to be very successful in establishing and maintaining a high standard of cell culture at our Institute.

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