BACKGROUND: The aim of the study was to determine if periodontitis, which often causes transient bacteraemia, associates with viable bacteria in standard blood donations.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study of 60 self-reported medically healthy blood donors aged over 50 years. According to standard procedures, whole blood was separated by fractionation into plasma, buffy-coat, and red blood cell (RBC)-fractions. The buffy-coat was screened for bacterial contamination using BacT/ALERT. Samples from plasma and RBC-fractions were incubated anaerobically and aerobically at 37 °C for 7 days on trypticase soy blood agar (TSA). For identification, colony polymerase chain reaction was performed using primers targeting 16S rDNA.
RESULTS: From 62% of the donors with periodontitis, bacterial growth was observed on at least 1 out of 4 plates inoculated with plasma or RBCs, whereas only 13% of plates inoculated with plasma or RBCs from periodontally healthy controls yielded bacterial growth (relative risk 6.4, 95% CI: 2.1; 19.5; p=0.0011). None of the donors tested positive for bacterial contamination using BacT/ALERT. Cutibacterium acnes was found in 31% of the donations from donors with periodontitis and in 10% of the donations from periodontally healthy donors. In addition, Staphylococcus species, Bacillus mycoides, Aggregatibacter aphrophilus, and Corynebacterium kroppenstedtii were detected.
DISCUSSION: Periodontitis increased the risk of bacterial contamination of blood products. Contaminating bacteria are often associated with the RBC-fraction. As the BacT/ALERT test is generally performed on platelet products, routine screening fails to detect many occurrences of viable bacteria in the RBC-fraction.