Elimination of contaminants from cell preparations using aqueous two-phase partitioning

Mirna González-González, Richard C. Willson, Marco Rito-Palomares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Contamination by cell debris and non-viable cells is common in cell-based processes. Cell fragments and dead cells can be produced during culture and in purification steps, and often must be eliminated before analyses, subsequent process steps, and/or final application to avoid interference, fouling and reduced product yields. In the present work, the selective elimination of cell debris from CD133+ stem cells by aqueous two-phase system (ATPS) partitioning is demonstrated. Two conventional ATPS systems showed no selectivity, with 100% of both cell debris and CD133+ stem cells partitioning to the top phase of a Ficoll 400,000-dextran 70,000 system and 100% of both debris and CD133+ cells partitioning to the bottom phase of a PEG 8000-dextran 500,000 system. In a novel UCON-dextran 75,000 system, however, 100% of the CD133+ stem cells partitioned to the bottom phase, while non-viable cells, cell debris and other non-mononuclear cells all partitioned to some extent to the top phase, away from the desired CD133+ cells. CD133+ cell viability was at least 98% after ATPS processing. This result suggests that with larger phase ratios or continuous extraction, this or related ATPS systems could remove essentially all cell debris and non-viable cells with cell yield and viability both near 100%. This approach might find application in a wide variety of cell-based technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-107
Number of pages5
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
StatePublished - Jan 28 2016


  • Aqueous two phase
  • Bioseparation
  • Cell debris contamination
  • Non-viable cells
  • Separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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