A kinetic analysis of hybridoma growth and metabolism in batch and continuous suspension culture: Effect of nutrient concentration, dilution rate, and pH



Hybridomas are finding increased use for the production of a wide variety of monoclonal antibodies. Understanding the roles of physiological and environmental factors on the growth and metabolism of mammalian cells is a prerequisite for the development of rational scale-up procedures. An SP2/0-derived mouse hybridoma has been employed in the present work as a model system for hybridoma suspension culture. In preliminary shake flask studies to determine the effect of glucose and glutamine, it was found that the specific growth rate, the glucose and glutamine metabolic quotients, and the cumulative specific antibody production rate were independent of glucose concentration over the range commonly employed in cell cultures. Only the specific rate of glutamine uptake was found to depend on glutamine concentration. The cells were grown in continuous culture at constant pH and oxygen concentration at a variety of dilution rates. Specific substrate consumption rates and product formation rates were determined from the steady state concentrations. The specific glucose uptake rate deviated from the maintenance energy model1 at low specific growth rates, probably due to changes in the metabolic pathways of the cells. Antibody production was not growth-associated; and higher specific antibody production rates were obtained at lower specific growth rates. The effect of pH on the metabolic quotients was also determined. An optimum in viable cell concentration was obtained between pH 7.1 and 7.4. The viable cell number and viability decreased dramatically at pH 6.8. At pH 7.7 the viable cell concentration initially decreased, but then recovered to values typical of pH 7.1–7.4. Higher specific nutrient consumption rates were found at the extreme pH values; however, glucose consumption was inhibited at low pH. The pH history also influenced the behavior at a given pH. Higher antibody metabolic quotients were obtained at the extreme pH values. Together with the effect of specific growth rate, this suggests higher antibody production under environmental or nutritional stress.