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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Prevention of bacterial growth in platelet products via inclusion of iron chelators Ng-Muk-Yuen, Jennifer Diane


Bacterial infection is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality arising from platelet transfusions (1, 2). Storage of platelet products at room temperature (20 to 24ºC) provides ideal conditions for bacterial proliferation (1, 3-6). Furthermore, platelets are stored in plasma containing bioavailable iron that bacteria require to survive (7). Thus we hypothesize that the inclusion of iron chelators will bind and remove iron, thereby inhibiting bacterial growth in both culture medium and platelet concentrates. Additionally, we hypothesize that residual red blood cells (RBCs) in platelet units may contribute bioavailable iron that promotes bacterial growth. To test these hypotheses, we first assessed growth of Staphylococcus epidermidis in culture medium after treatment with the iron chelators deferoxamine (DFO) or phytic acid. DFO significantly inhibited bacterial growth in a dose dependent manner (p < 0.009). Conversely, phytate only inhibited bacterial growth at concentrations ≥ 100 mM (p < 0.001); at ≤ 5 mM, phytate supplied S. epidermidis with additional nutrients and significantly promoted growth (p < 0.001). Subsequently, we monitored the change in RBCs over time. Hemolysis, methemoglobin, and iron levels all significantly increased over the 7-day storage period (p < 0.001) releasing bioavailable iron. Indeed, we found that S. epidermidis growth in iron-poor medium drastically increased with the addition of RBCs, thus supporting our second hypothesis. Surprisingly, the inclusion of DFO in minimal medium did not demonstrate a bacteriostatic effect in the presence of RBCs. The inhibitory effect of DFO was likely overcome by iron released from the elevated methemoglobin levels arising from the direct interaction of DFO with hemoglobin. Previous studies demonstrate that methemoglobin releases iron more quickly than normal hemoglobin (8). Lastly, we evaluated the effect of DFO on microbial growth in platelet concentrates using the BacT/ALERT system. The presence of DFO significantly inhibited S. epidermidis growth in buffy coat platelets in a dose dependent manner (p < 0.001). With these findings, the inclusion of iron chelators is a promising approach to preventing transfusion-transmitted bacterial infection and providing patients with a safer platelet product.

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