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Publication Title | SUPERCRITICAL FLUID EXTRACTION OF TRITERPENOIDS FROM BIRCH BARK

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SUPERCRITICAL FLUID EXTRACTION OF TRITERPENOIDS FROM BIRCH BARK.

Yacine Boumghar*,1, Joël Fournier1, Naima El Mehdi1André Pichette2, and Serge Lavoie2.

1CÉPROCQ, 6220 Sherbrooke East, Montréal, H1N 1C1, Fax: 514 255 1234, e-mail: yboumghar@ceprocq.com.

2Université of Québec at Chicoutimi, Département des sciences fondamentales, 555 boulevard université, Chicoutimi, G7H 2B1, Québec, Canada.

The supercritical fluid extraction of birch bark was conducted. Among the triterpenoïds present in the matrix, we are particularly interested by betulinic acid and betulin. The goal of this work was to identify the optimal operating conditions in order to maximize the recovery of betulin and betulinic acid.

It was well established that betulinic acid is a chemotherapeutic agent in the treatment of neuroectodermal tumours and melanoma. Betulin is also an interesting compound, knowing it is a synthetic precursor of betulinic acid. Using binary and ternary mixtures, it was found that carbon dioxide – ethanol gives the maximum yield (29%) when the time extraction was six hours and 10% ethanol (on molar basis) was used.

INTRODUCTION

It was been well established that the outer bark of most white-barked birch species, such as Betula papyrifera March, are rich in pentacyclic triterpernoid compound, particularly betulin (Ekman, 1983; Eckerman, 1985). Betulin and other natural triterpenoids such betulinic acid have been extracted in good yield (20 to 30% of dry weight) from the bark of birch with organic solvents. The betulin is the major triterpenoid compound in bark of white birch and represents about 70% of the total triterpene.

The major interest in betulin lies in that it is a synthetic precursor of triterpenoid compounds having interesting pharmacological properties such as betulinic acid. A promising new development is the use of betulinic acid as a chemotherapeutic agent in the treatment of neuroectodermal tumours, covering neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma, glioblastoma and Ewing’s sarcoma cells (Fulda et al., 1999).

Conventional methods of extraction are deficient in several ways. The use of organic solvents at high temperatures may cause thermal degradation of some molecules. An other inconvenient is these organic solvents are hazardous to the environment and to the humans.

Conventional processes, such as solvent extraction, maceration, often require additional steps and are usually inferior to supercritical fluid extraction with respect to selectivity. The almost exclusive of supercritical carbon dioxide to extract natural compounds from plants destined for human nutrition and the pharmaceutical and perfume industries is due to its chemical and physical properties: it is safe, non-toxic, non-combustible, inexpensive and its critical temperature and pressure are not high (31°C, 73,8 bar).

Our goal is to use the supercritical carbon dioxide for extracting the natural compounds from the bark of birch.

* to whom correspendence should be addressed

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