Effect of medium sugar source on the production of retroviral vectors for gene therapy

Biotechnol Bioeng. 2006 May 5;94(1):24-36. doi: 10.1002/bit.20778.


The production of gene therapy retroviral vectors presents many difficulties, mainly due to vector instability and low cell productivities hampering the attainment of high titers of infectious viral vectors. The objective of this work is to increase the production titers of retroviral vectors by manipulating the sugar carbon sources used in bioreaction. Four sugars were tested (glucose, galactose, sorbitol, and fructose) on an established Moloney murine leukemia virus (MoMLV) producer cell line. Galactose and sorbitol did not support cell growth or vector production. Glucose supplemented at 25 mM supported the highest cell growth; however, the use of glucose or fructose at 83 and 140 mM have shown to improve the infectious vector titer three to fourfold. The reasons for the titer improvements were further analyzed and, although, the cell-specific productivity in viral transgene RNA and reverse transcriptase were augmented 5- and 6-fold for glucose at 140 mM and 14- and 16-fold for fructose at 140 mM, comparing with glucose at 25 mM, these increases did not seem sufficient to account for the 14- (140 mM glucose) and 32- (140 mM fructose) fold increment obtained for the infectious particles-specific productivity. Further accounting the enhancement in the titers was the improvement in the viral stability, the half-life of the vectors was enhanced by 30-60%. This resulted in a product quality with a superior ratio of infectious to total particles, thus reducing the most problematic contaminant in the production of retroviral vectors, non-infectious retroviral particles.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrates / pharmacology*
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Culture Media / chemistry*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fructose / pharmacology
  • Galactose / pharmacology
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Genetic Vectors / physiology*
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Moloney murine leukemia virus / genetics
  • Moloney murine leukemia virus / physiology
  • Retroviridae / physiology*
  • Sorbitol / pharmacology
  • Transgenes
  • Virus Assembly / drug effects*


  • Carbohydrates
  • Culture Media
  • Fructose
  • Sorbitol
  • Glucose
  • Galactose