, 63:445 | Cite as

The potential of hydrodynamic damage to animal cells of industrial relevance: current understanding

  • Weiwei Hu
  • Claudia Berdugo
  • Jeffrey J. ChalmersEmail author


Suspension animal cell culture is now routinely scaled up to bioreactors on the order of 10,000 L, and greater, to meet commercial demand. However, the concern of the ‘shear sensitivity’ of animal cells still remains, not only within the bioreactor, but also in the downstream processing. As the productivities continue to increase, titer of ~10 g/L are now reported with cell densities greater than 2 × 107 cells/mL. Such high, and potentially higher cell densities will inevitably translate to increased demand in mass transfer and mixing. In addition, achieving productivity gains in both the upstream stage and downstream processes can subject the cells to aggressive environments such as those involving hydrodynamic stresses. The perception of ‘shear sensitivity’ has historically put an arbitrary upper limit on agitation and aeration in bioreactor operation; however, as cell densities and productivities continue to increase, mass transfer requirements can exceed those imposed by these arbitrary low limits. Therefore, a better understanding of how animal cells, used to produce therapeutic products, respond to hydrodynamic forces in both qualitative and quantitative ways will allow an experimentally based, higher, “upper limit” to be created to guide the design and operation of future commercial, large scale bioreactors. With respect to downstream hydrodynamic conditions, situations have already been achieved in which practical limits with respect to hydrodynamic forces have been experienced. This review mainly focuses on publications from both the academy and industry regarding the effect of hydrodynamic forces on industrially relevant animal cells, and not on the actual scale-up of bioreactors. A summary of implications and remaining challenges will also be presented.


Hydrodynamic forces Animal cell culture Agitation Sparging Scale up Shear sensitivity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Weiwei Hu
    • 1
  • Claudia Berdugo
    • 3
  • Jeffrey J. Chalmers
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Cell Culture DevelopmentBiogen Idec Inc.RTPUSA
  2. 2.William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Scientist / Research & DevelopmentBD BiosciencesSparksUSA

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