Multi-attribute PAT for UF/DF of Proteins-Monitoring Concentration, particle sizes, and Buffer Exchange

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2020 Apr;412(9):2123-2136. doi: 10.1007/s00216-019-02318-8. Epub 2020 Feb 18.


Ultrafiltration/diafiltration (UF/DF) plays an important role in the manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals. Monitoring critical process parameters and quality attributes by process analytical technology (PAT) during those steps can facilitate process development and assure consistent quality in production processes. In this study, a lab-scale cross-flow filtration (CFF) device was equipped with a variable pathlength (VP) ultraviolet and visible (UV/Vis) spectrometer, a light scattering photometer, and a liquid density sensor (microLDS). Based on the measured signals, the protein concentration, buffer exchange, apparent molecular weight, and hydrodynamic radius were monitored. The setup was tested in three case studies. First, lysozyme was used in an UF/DF run to show the comparability of on-line and off-line measurements. The corresponding correlation coefficients exceeded 0.97. Next, urea-induced changes in protein size of glucose oxidase (GOx) were monitored during two DF steps. Here, correlation coefficients were ≥ 0.92 for static light scattering (SLS) and dynamic light scattering (DLS). The correlation coefficient for the protein concentration was 0.82, possibly due to time-dependent protein precipitation. Finally, a case study was conducted with a monoclonal antibody (mAb) to show the full potential of this setup. Again, off-line and on-line measurements were in good agreement with all correlation coefficients exceeding 0.92. The protein concentration could be monitored in-line in a large range from 3 to 120 g L- 1. A buffer-dependent increase in apparent molecular weight of the mAb was observed during DF, providing interesting supplemental information for process development and stability assessment. In summary, the developed setup provides a powerful testing system for evaluating different UF/DF processes and may be a good starting point to develop process control strategies. Graphical Abstract Piping and instrumentation diagram of the experimental setup and data generated by the different sensors. A VP UV/Vis spectrometer (FlowVPE, yellow) measures the protein concentration. From the data of the light scattering photometer (Zetasizer, green) in the on-line measurement loop, the apparant molecular weight and z-average are calculated. The density sensor (microLDS) measures density and viscosity of the fluid in the on-line loop.

Keywords: Aggregation; Light scattering; PAT; Sub-visible particles; UF/DF; UV/Vis spectroscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / analysis
  • Buffers
  • Dynamic Light Scattering
  • Equipment Design
  • Glucose Oxidase / analysis
  • Humans
  • Muramidase / analysis
  • Particle Size
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / instrumentation*
  • Ultrafiltration / instrumentation


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Buffers
  • Proteins
  • Glucose Oxidase
  • Muramidase