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J Biotechnol. 1990 Jul;15(1-2):71-89.

Methods for increasing monoclonal antibody production in suspension and entrapped cell cultures: biochemical and flow cytometric analysis as a function of medium serum content.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590.


The growth and antibody production of the SP2/0-derived hybridoma HB124 (ATCC) grown in media containing varying amounts of fetal bovine serum (FBS) were monitored using biochemical and flow cytometric methods. Hybridomas grown in 100 ml spinner flasks with RPMI-1640 containing varying amounts of serum demonstrated that cell growth, viability and IgG production show significant changes when serum content is decreased from 10.0 to 5.5 to 1.0 and 0.5%. A longer lag phase resulted when the lower serum content media were used. Cellular rates of glucose uptake showed a significant increase as serum levels were lowered. Similarly, exponential phase IgG production rates increased as the amount of serum was decreased, probably as a result of the decreased rate of exponential growth. Flow cytometric analysis showed a similar increase in cellular IgG content as medium serum levels declined. In contrast, the maximum IgG concentrations were found in flasks containing 1% FBS or above with the lowest concentration in the 0.5% FBS flask being due to the lower numbers of viable cells. Cells grown in microporous hollow fiber reactors were fed with medium containing serum which was decreased stepwise with time. Decreasing medium serum content stepwise from 10 to 2.5% resulted in increased antibody production. However, complete removal of serum from the medium resulted in a significant drop in antibody productivity. Cumulative antibody production was equivalent for cells grown entirely in medium containing 10% FBS and for those which experienced a drop to 2.5% FBS. To compare a defined serum-free medium preparation with medium containing 10% FBS, cells were again grown in batch suspension culture and analyzed. The growth rates were similar but there was a significant difference in IgG production rates. The serum-free culture exhibited both higher cellular production rates and higher IgG concentrations. These results indicate that decreasing medium serum content can adversely affect antibody yield because of lower cell viabilities, not because of lower production rates. Use of a defined serum-free medium, as done in this study, results in higher yields because of a higher IgG production rate as well as good cell growth and viability.

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