Adaptation of Vero cells to suspension growth for rabies virus production in different serum free media.


Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology, Vaccinology and Biotechnology Development, Group of Biotechnology Development, Institut Pasteur de Tunis, Université Tunis El Manar, 13, place Pasteur, BP 74, 1002 Tunis, Tunisia. Electronic address: [Email]


Vero cells are nowadays widely used in the production of human vaccines. They are considered as one of the most productive and flexible continuous cell lines available for vaccine manufacturing. However, these cells are anchorage dependent, which greatly complicates upstream processing and process scale-up. Moreover, there is a recognized need to reduce the costs of vaccine manufacturing to develop vaccines that are affordable worldwide. The use of cell lines adapted to suspension growth contributes to reach this objective. The current work describes the adaptation of Vero cells to suspension culture in different serum free media according to multiple protocols based on subsequent passages. The best one that relies on cell adaption to IPT-AFM an in-house developed animal component free medium was then chosen for further studies. Besides, as aggregates have been observed, the improvement of IPT-AFM composition and mechanical dissociation were also investigated. In addition to IPT-AFM, three chemically defined media (CD293, Hycell CHO and CD-U5) and two serum free media (293SFMII and SFM4CHO) were tested to set up a serum free culture of the suspension-adapted Vero cells (VeroS) in shake flasks. Cell density levels higher than 2 × 106 cells/mL were obtained in the assessed conditions. The results were comparable to those obtained in spinner culture of adherent Vero cells grown on Cytodex 1 microcarriers. Cell infection with LP-2061 rabies virus strain at an MOI (Multiplicity of Infection) of 0.1 and a cell density of 8 ± 0.5 × 105 cells/mL resulted in a virus titer higher than 107 FFU/mL in all media tested. Nevertheless, the highest titer equal to 5.2 ± 0.5 × 107 FFU/mL, was achieved in IPT-AFM containing a reduced amount of Ca++ and Mg++. Our results demonstrate the suitability of the obtained VeroS cells to produce rabies virus at a high titer, and pave the way to develop VeroS cells bioreactor process for rabies vaccine production.


Rabies virus production,Serum free medium,Suspension growth,Vero cells,