Characterization of apoptosis in PER.C6® batch and perfusion cultures

S.M. Mercier, B. Diepenbroek, D.E. Martens, R.H. Wijffels, M. Streefland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Preventing or delaying cell death is a challenge in mammalian cell cultures for the development and optimization of production processes for biopharmaceuticals. Cell cultures need to be maintained highly viable for extended times in order to reach maximum production yields. Moreover, programmed cell death through apoptosis is often believed to occur without being detected by classical viability measurements. In this study, we characterized cell death in PER.C6® batch and perfusion cultures using three flow cytometry techniques measuring different steps of the apoptosis cascade: DNA fragmentation, caspases activation and phosphatidylserine externalization. We showed that apoptosis is the main pathway of PER.C6® cell death in batch cultures after depletion of main carbon sources. In high cell density perfusion cultures fed at a constant specific perfusion rate, both high viability and very limited apoptosis were observed. When extending this perfusion process far beyond standard operations, cultures were exposed to suboptimal process conditions, which resulted in an increase of apoptotic cell death. Moreover, we showed that the reference viability measurement using trypan blue exclusion properly assesses the level of cell death in PER.C6® cultures. This study is a first step in understanding the mechanisms of PER.C6® cell death, which will be helpful to support applications of the cell line.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-578
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • hamster ovary cells
  • high-level expression
  • flow-cytometry
  • line per.c6
  • death
  • adenovirus
  • dna
  • vaccine
  • gene
  • manufacture


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