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CHO cell cultures in shake flasks and bioreactors present different host cell protein profiles in the supernatant

Goey, Cher H., Bell, David, Kontoravdi, Cleo
Biochemical engineering journal 2019 v.144 pp. 185-192
apoptosis, bioreactors, cell culture, culture flasks, hypothermia, immunoglobulin G, protein composition, protein secretion
Several studies on the impact of cell culture parameters on the profile of host cell protein (HCP) impurities have been carried out in shake flasks. Herein, we explore how transferable the findings and conclusions of such investigations are to lab-scale bioreactors. Experiments were performed in both systems in fed-batch mode under physiological temperature and with a shift to mild hypothermia and the impact on key upstream performance indicators was quantified. Under both temperatures, bioreactors produced a richer HCP pool despite the overall concentration being similar at both scales and temperatures. The number of different HCPs detected in bioreactor supernatants was four times higher than that in flasks under physiological temperature and more than eight times higher under mild hypothermia. The origin of HCPs was also altered from mostly naturally secreted proteins in flasks to mainly intracellular proteins in bioreactors at the lower temperature. Although the number of species correlated with apoptotic cell density in bioreactors, this was not the case in flasks. Even though the level of HCP impurities and mAb/HCP concentration ratio were similar under all four conditions with an average of approximately 330 μg HCP/mL culture and 0.3 mg HCP/mg IgG4, respectively, the fact that culture method significantly affects the number of species present in the supernatant can have implications for downstream processing steps.