Three-dimensional cell culture approach for in vitro immunization and the production of monoclonal antibodies

Biomedical Materials 2022 Volume 17, Number 5, Article 055003

The generation of monoclonal antibodies using an in vitro immunization approach is a promising alternative to conventional hybridoma technology. As recently published, the in vitro approach enables an antigen-specific activation of B lymphocytes within 10–12 d followed by immortalization and subsequent selection of hybridomas. This in vitro process can be further improved by using a three-dimensional surrounding to stabilize the complex microenvironment required for a successful immune reaction. In this study, the suitability of Geltrex as a material for the generation of monoclonal antigen-specific antibodies by in vitro immunization was analyzed. We could show that dendritic cells, B cells, and T cells were able to travel through and interact inside of the matrix, leading to the antigen-specific activation of T and B cells. For cell recovery and subsequent hybridoma technique the suitability of dispase and Corning cell recovery solution (CRS) was compared. In our experiments, the use of dispase resulted in a severe alteration of cell surface receptor expression patterns and significantly higher cell death, while we could not detect an adverse effect of Corning CRS. Finally, an easy approach for high-density cell culture was established by printing an alginate ring inside a cell culture vessel. The ring was filled with Geltrex, cells, and medium to ensure a sufficient supply during cultivation. Using this approach, we were able to generate monoclonal hybridomas that produce antigen-specific antibodies against ovalbumin and the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein.