Open Access Methodology article

Highly efficient concentration of lenti- and retroviral vector preparations by membrane adsorbers and ultrafiltration

Katrin Zimmermann1, Oliver Scheibe2, Andreas Kocourek2, Jutta Muelich1, Elke Jurkiewicz2 and Alexander Pfeifer13*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Biomedical Center, University of Bonn, Sigmund-Freud-Strasse 25, 53105 Bonn, Germany

2 Sartorius Stedim Biotech GmbH, August-Spindler-Strasse 11, 37079 Goettingen, Germany

3 PharmaCenter Bonn, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

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BMC Biotechnology 2011, 11:55  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-11-55

Published: 20 May 2011



Lentiviral vectors (LVs) can efficiently transduce a broad spectrum of cells and tissues, including dividing and non-dividing cells. So far the most widely used method for concentration of lentiviral particles is ultracentrifugation (UC).

An important feature of vectors derived from lentiviruses and prototypic gamma-retroviruses is that the host range can be altered by pseudotypisation. The most commonly used envelope protein for pseudotyping is the glycoprotein of the Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV.G), which is also essential for successful concentration using UC.


Here, we describe a purification method that is based on membrane adsorbers (MAs). Viral particles are efficiently retained by the anionic exchange MAs and can be eluted with a high-salt buffer. Buffer exchange and concentration is then performed by utilizing ultrafiltration (UF) units of distinct molecular weight cut off (MWCO). With this combined approach similar biological titers as UC can be achieved (2 to 5 × 109 infectious particles (IP)/ml). Lentiviral particles from small starting volumes (e.g. 40 ml) as well as large volumes (up to 1,000 ml) cell culture supernatant (SN) can be purified. Apart from LVs, vectors derived from oncoretroviruses can be efficiently concentrated as well. Importantly, the use of the system is not confined to VSV.G pseudotyped lenti- and retroviral particles and other pseudotypes can also be purified.


Taken together the method presented here offers an efficient alternative for the concentration of lenti- as well as retroviral vectors with different pseudotypes that needs no expensive equipment, is easy to handle and can be used to purify large quantities of viral vectors within a short time.