Media evaluation for production and expansion of anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T cells

Cytotherapy. 2018 Jul;20(7):941-951. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2018.04.007. Epub 2018 May 30.


Background: The use of CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells to treat B-cell malignancies has proven beneficial. Several groups use serum to produce CD19 CAR T cells. Today, ready-to-use serum-free media that require no addition of serum are commercially available. Therefore, it becomes important to evaluate the production of CD19 CAR T cells with and without the addition of serum.

Methods: T cells from buffy coats were cultured in AIM-V and TexMACS (TM) supplemented with 5% human serum (A5% and TM5%, respectively), and in TM without serum. Cells were activated with OKT3 and expanded in interleukin (IL)-2. Viral transduction was performed in RetroNectin-coated plates using the spinoculation method. CD19 CAR T cells were tested for their viability, expansion, transduction efficacy, phenotype and cytotoxicity.

Results: CD19 CAR T cells expanded in A5% and TM5% showed significantly better viability and higher fold expansion than cells expanded in TM. TM promoted the expansion of CD8+ T cells and effector phenotype of CD19 CAR T cells. The transduction efficacy and the cytotoxic function were comparable between the different media. Higher CD107a+ cells were detected in TM and TM5%, whereas higher IL-2+ and IL-17+ cells were detected in A5%. CD19 CAR exhibited co-expression of inhibitory receptors such as TIM-3+LAG-3+ and/or TIM-3+PD-1+.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that serum supplementation promotes better CD19 CAR T-cell expansion and viability in vitro. CD19 CAR T cells produced in TM medium showed lower CD4/CD8 ratio, which warrants further evaluation in clinical settings. Overall, the choice of culture medium impacts CD19 CAR T-cell end product.

Keywords: CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T cells; serum-containing medium; serum-free medium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD19 / immunology
  • Antigens, CD19 / metabolism*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Culture Media / pharmacology*
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects


  • Antigens, CD19
  • Culture Media
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen