Comparison of pyrogen assays by testing products exhibiting low endotoxin recovery

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Tammy Thurman
Carol J. Lahti
Jeanne M. Mateffy
Ren-Yo Forng
Friedrich von Wintzingerode
Lindsey M. Silva
Sven M. Deutschmann
Ned Mozier


The use of pyrogen tests to assess the risk of endotoxin in biological products has increased recently due to concerns of some regulatory authorities about products exhibiting low endotoxin recovery (LER). Manufacturers increasingly seek to reduce the use of animals unless essential to assure patient safety. The current study compares the ability of the monocyte activation test (MAT) and the bacterial endotoxin test (BET) to the rabbit pyrogen test (RPT) to detect endotoxin spikes in samples of products shown to exhibit LER. Product samples or water were spiked with endotoxin and held for three days or tested immediately in the BET, the RPT and two variations of the MAT at the same time. Results show high sensitivity to endotoxin of both the BET and MAT and much lower sensitivity in the RPT, indicating that much higher levels of reference standard endotoxin are required to induce pyrogenicity in the RPT than the 5 endotoxin units (EU) per kg common threshold. The results of the BET and MAT correlated well for the detection of endotoxin spike in water. We also show that LER (masking of endotoxin) found in the BET is also seen in the MAT and RPT, suggesting that the products themselves elicit a biological inactivation of spiked endotoxin over time, thereby rendering it less or non-pyrogenic. We conclude the non-animal MAT option is a suitable replacement for the RPT to measure spiked endotoxin in biopharmaceuticals.

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Thurman, T., Lahti, C. J., Mateffy, J. M., Forng, R.-Y., von Wintzingerode, F., Silva, L. M., Deutschmann, S. M. and Mozier, N. (2022) “Comparison of pyrogen assays by testing products exhibiting low endotoxin recovery”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation. doi: 10.14573/altex.2202021.

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