Early detection of mycoplasma infection is crucial for saving precious often irreplaceable data from the tissues of patients. Mycoplasma infections cause diseases in the upper and lower respiratory tracts, urethritis in men resulting in painful dysuria, urgency and urethral discharge. Cough, fever, headache, urethritis may persist for several weeks and convalescence is slow. The symptoms of these diseases are aggravated by the detection of mycoplasma infections, that takes either a long time, besides being expensive or is specific and restricted to only a limited number of contaminant strains. Mycoplasmas are hard to detect visually but could be seen and followed by time-lapse microscopy. Our hypothesis is that one can detect mycoplasma infection irrespective of its origin and type of mycoplasma. Main lines of supporting evidence are provided by the time-lapse microscopy showing dynamic morphological alterations caused by mycoplasmas before changes in human cell cultures become visible. Morphometric measurements of mycoplasma infections revealed four subphases: i) detachment of infected cells, ii) aggregation, iii) biofilm formation and iv) shrinkage of infected cells. The applicability of time-lapse microscopy for the detection of mycoplasma infection was validated by a mycoplasma test Kit. Most important implications related to morphometric parameters include the observation of mycoplasma infected cultures for an extended period of time instead of applying static snap-shot microscopy. A reliable method is offered to estimate the time of mycoplasma exposure that elapsed during the cell growth. This microphotometric approach served a more economical detection of mycoplasma contamination at its early stage of cell growth and spread, irrespective of the origin of contaminated serum, without defining the type of mycoplasma.
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