Rapid detection of bacterial contamination in cell or tissue cultures based on Raman spectroscopy
Monitoring the sterility of cell or tissue cultures is an essential task, particularly in the fields of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering when implanting cells into the human body. We present a system based on a commercially available microscope equipped with a microfluidic cell that prepares the particles found in the solution for analysis, a Raman-spectrometer attachment optimized for non-destructive, rapid recording of Raman spectra, and a data acquisition and analysis tool for identification of the particles. In contrast to conventional sterility testing in which samples are incubated over weeks, our system is able to analyze milliliters of supernatant or cell suspension within hours by filtering relevant particles and placing them on a Raman-friendly substrate in the microf luidic cell. Identification of critical particles via microscopic imaging and subsequent image analysis is carried out before micro-Raman analysis of those particles is then carried out with an excitation wavelength of 785 nm. The potential of this setup is demonstrated by results of artificial contamination of samples with a pool of bacteria, fungi, and spores: single-channel spectra of the critical particles are automatically baseline-corrected without using background data and classified via hierarchical cluster analysis, showing great promise for accurate and rapid detection and identification of contaminants.