What is Depyrogenation? - Definition & Methods

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson explains to you something known as pyrexia, pyrogens, and depyrogenation. Then you'll learn about the main method of depyrogenation as well as some alternative ones as well.

What is Depyrogenation?

You've been affected by a pyrogen at least once in your life. And, if you haven't been, you're either extraordinarily lucky or extraordinarily unlucky. A pyrogen is a substance that causes a fever, which is also called pyrexia. If you've had a fever before, you were affected by a pyrogen, namely a bacterial toxin of one sort or another. If you've never had a fever in your life, you are either very lucky, or you have a terrible immune system, let's hope it's not the latter.

In any case, knowing what a pyrogen is, you might already be close to defining depyrogenation for yourself. Depyrogenation refers to the process of removing a pyrogen from a substance, container, or instrument such as surgical instruments, or a pharmaceutical container or preparation. This is most often said with respect to devices, instruments, containers, or substances that may be placed into a person's body or those that store substances that may be placed into a person's body (like injectable solutions).

Let's learn more about some of the methods of depyrogenation in this lesson.

Dry Heat

The main way by which depyrogenation is achieved in the pharmaceutical industry is dry heat (sterilization). In short, it's like placing that object into a super-hot oven.

The containers, like glass vials used for the storage of pharmaceuticals, are placed into metal crates which are then placed into ovens that use dry heat in order to inactivate any pyrogens. Sometimes, the containers are placed into tunnels where they are transported through varying heating zones within the tunnel. The dry heat method blasts the objects with extremely hot air, somewhere between 160 degrees Celsius and upwards of 400 degrees Celsius. However, normally they are 'baked' for about 30 minutes at 250 degrees Celsius or for 60 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.


As you can imagine, not all instruments, devices, and equipment can withstand such extremely high temperatures. Thus, temperature-sensitive objects must be depyrogenated with alternative methods of depyrogenation.

These methods include the following:

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