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Pyrogens In Medicine and Research



For a long time it was believed that if water were injected into someone it could cause a high fever. This was before pyrogens were discovered. What makes isolation pyrogens so important is that basically everyone who goes to a hospital for shock tissue injure dehydradtion glandular disorder or surgery will at some point receive an intravenous injections of saline solution a dextrose solution or a solution of potassium chloride in glucose all of which use water as the principal solvent. In addition many patients receive injections of dehydrated antibiotics that are reconstituted with water.  


The substance in water that caused fevers was later determined to one or more endotoxins produced by Gram negative bacteria. Also it was determined that the only way to remove this substance from water was through careful distillation.

Pyrogens are very very potent. With only 0.002 gram of purified material per Kg a fever will result.It has a latency of about an hour will appear abruptly and subside just as abruptly two to three hours later. While latent circulating granulocytes disappear from the bloodstream and cling to the blood vessel walls. This behavior suggests that the endotoxin pintroduced by the intravenous injection does not affect the thermoregulatory mechanisms of the body. However it does cause the release of a second pyrogenic substance presumably from the granulocytes.   


Whatever the mechanism it is clear that pyrogens are harmful and that every effort should be made to remove them from water to be used for injection. Notably U.S. Pharmacopeia requires that all solutions and accessories employed in intravenous injection need to be sterile and pyrogen free before being used.

Primer: Water Use In Research And Medicine
  • Water The Cleansing Agent
  • Water Use In Tissue Cell Culture
  • Water Usage In Pharmaceuticals
  • Pyrogens In Research And Medicine
  • Water Use In Blood Fractionation
  • Water Use In Cryobiology
  • General Use of Water in Research and Medicine


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