• mild hypothermic culture;
  • apoptosis;
  • cell cycle;
  • downstream processing;
  • host cell proteins

The manufacture of complex therapeutic proteins using mammalian cells is well established, with several strategies developed to improve productivity. The application of sustained mild hypothermic conditions during culture has been associated with increases in product titer and improved product quality. However, despite associated cell physiological effects, very few studies have investigated the impact on downstream processing (DSP). Characterization of cells grown under mild hypothermic conditions demonstrated that the stationary phase was prolonged by delaying the onset of apoptosis. This enabled cells to maintain viability for extended periods and increase volumetric productivity from 0.74 to 1.02 g L−1. However, host cell proteins, measured by ELISA, increased by ∼50%, attributed to the extended time course and higher peak and harvest cell densities. The individual components making up this impurity, as determined by SELDI-TOF MS and 2D-PAGE, were shown to be largely comparable. Under mild hypothermic conditions, cells were less shear sensitive than those maintained at 37°C, enhancing the preliminary primary recovery step. Adaptive changes in membrane fluidity were further investigated by adopting a pronounced temperature shift immediately prior to primary recovery and the improvement observed suggests that such a strategy may be implementable when shear sensitivity is of concern. Early and late apoptotic cells were particularly susceptible to shear, at either temperature, even under the lowest shear rate investigated. These findings demonstrate the importance of considering the impact of cell culture strategies and cell physiology on DSP, by implementing a range of experimental methods for process characterization. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:688–696, 2013