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Abstract

The perfusion culture of suspended mammalian cells requires a cell retention device, the best of which will retain all viable cells and reject all nonviable cells and debris. The inclined settler is a passive, simple, inexpensive, and easy-to-maintain device that has been shown in the past to selectively remove single nonviable cells of hybridoma cultures. In this work, we have demonstrated the preferential return of viable recombinant Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells through the use of a three-port settler maintained at lower temperatures and vibrated to reduce cell attachment and enhance cell return to the bioreactor. The residence time of CHO cells in the cooled, vibrated settler was determined by flow-cytometric discrimination of tracer recombinant CHO cells. Cells returning to the bioreactor through the underflow had an average residence time of 1.46 h in the settler. During perfusion cultures with cell densities above 106 cells/mL, cells seen to be stalled within the settler were easily dislodged by periodic air bubbling using a simple back-flushing procedure in which headspace gas was brought through the settler underflow port. The resuspended cells were returned to the bioreactor within an average of 32 min after bubbling. This study demonstrates that inclined sedimentation technology can be utilized to selectively recycle viable recombinant CHO cells with only a short retention time in an inclined settler.