Animal cell cultures generate maximal amounts of desired products when maintained in a controlled environment with low and constant concentrations of nutrients and wastes. Traditionally this has involved slow addition of glucose and glutamine; however, recent studies have indicated that a number of low concentration amino acids are required to prevent initiation of apoptosis. Therefore, optimal control of animal cell cultures will likely require measurement of a large number of chemical components. We present here the evaluation of a near-infrared spectroscopic (NIRS) monitoring scheme to quantify 19 cellular nutrients and wastes in culture medium with and without serum. The components include glucose, lactate, ammonia, pyruvate, glutamine, and 14 other amino acids. Spectroscopic calibrations were generated for a synthetic version of a standard culture medium (DMEM) in which the concentrations of 17 DMEM components and ammonia and lactate were varied in a random fashion. This randomization provides a stringent evaluation of the measurement scheme. Reasonably accurate measurements of these 19 components could be accomplished in the absence or presence of 10% horse serum by volume with percent errors ranging from 3% to 37%. Analytes with concentrations as low as 0.3 mM could be reliably quantified. The presence of serum, when properly included in the calibration, has little effect on measurement error. These results provide an important step toward application of NIRS for monitoring the large number of varying components of animal cell cultivations.
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