Metabolic characterization of a CHO cell size increase phase in fed-batch cultures

Xiao Pan*, Ciska Dalm, René H. Wijffels, Dirk E. Martens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Normally, the growth profile of a CHO cell fed-batch process can be divided into two main phases based on changes in cell concentration, being an exponential growth phase and a stationary (non-growth) phase. In this study, an additional phase is observed during which the cell division comes to a halt but the cell growth continues in the form of an increase in cell size. The cell size increase (SI) phase occurs between the exponential proliferation phase (also called the number increase or NI phase) and the stationary phase. During the SI phase, the average volume and dry weight per cell increase threefold linearly with time. The average mAb specific productivity per cell increases linearly with the cell volume and therefore is on average two times higher in the SI phase than in the NI phase. The specific essential amino acids consumption rates per cell remain fairly constant between the NI and the SI phase, which agrees with the similar biomass production rate per cell between these two phases. Accumulation of fatty acids and formation of lipid droplets in the cells are observed during the SI phase, indicating that the fatty acids synthesis rate exceeds the demand for the synthesis of membrane lipids. A metabolic comparison between NI and SI phase shows that the cells with a larger size produce more mAb per unit of O2 and nutrient consumed, which can be used for further process optimization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8101-8113
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number22
Early online date26 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Antibody production
  • Cell size increase
  • Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell
  • Fed-batch
  • Metabolic flux analysis
  • Phase transition


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