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Cytotechnology. 1996 Jan;22(1-3):3-16. doi: 10.1007/BF00353919.

Engineering challenges in high density cell culture systems.

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Bayer Corporation, Biotechnology, 4th and Parker Streets, 94701, Berkeley, CA, USA.


High density cell culture systems offer the advantage of production of bio-pharmaceuticals in compact bioreactors with high volumetric production rates; however, these systems are difficult to design and operate. First of all, the cells have to be retained in the bioreactor by physical means during perfusion. The design of the cell retention is the key to performance of high density cell culture systems. Oxygenation and media design are also important for maximizing the cell number. In high density perfusion reactors, variable cell density, and hence the metabolic demand, require constant adjustment of perfusion rates. The use of cell specific perfusion rate (CSPR) control provides a constant environment to the cells resulting in consistent production. On-line measurement of cell density and metabolic activities can be used for the estimation of cell densities and the control of CSPR. Issues related to mass transfer and mixing become more important at high cell densities. Due to the difference in mass transfer coefficients for oxygen and CO(2), a significant accumulation of dissolved CO(2) is experienced with silicone tubing aeration. Also, mixing is observed to decrease at high densities. Base addition, if not properly done, could result in localized cell lysis and poor culture performance. Non-uniform mixing in reactors promotes the heterogeneity of the culture. Cell aggregation results in segregation of the cells within different mixing zones. This paper discusses these issues and makes recommendations for further development of high density cell culture bioreactors.


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