Recovery of crocins from saffron stigmas (Crocus sativus) in aqueous two-phase systems uri icon


  • Crocins are carotenoid derivates that have recently attracted the interest of the scientific community due to their nutraceutical properties. Saffron (dry Crocus sativus stigmas) is one of the main known sources of crocins. In this study the potential use of aqueous two-phase system (ATPS) for the extraction of crocins from C. sativus stigmas was evaluated. The partitioning behavior of crocins in different types of ATPS (polymer-polymer, polymer-salt, alcohol-salt and ionic liquid-salt) was evaluated. Ethanol-potassium phosphate ATPS were selected based on their high top phase recovery yield and low cost of system constituents. The evaluation and optimization of system parameters rendered conditions (V R=3.2, ethanol 19.8% (w/w), potassium phosphate 16.5% (w/w), TLL of 25% (w/w), 0.1M NaCl and 2% (w/w) of sample load) under which more than 75% of total crocins were recovered in the top (ethanol rich) phase, whereas the wasted stigmas accumulated in the bottom phase. Lastly, a comparison between an optimized solid-liquid extraction using ethanol:water as solvent and ATPS was conducted demonstrating that similar yields are achieved with both strategies (76.89±1.8% and 79.27±1.6%, respectively). However, ATPS rendered a higher extraction selectivity of 1.3±0.04mg of crocins for each mg of phenolic compound, whereas ethanolic extraction showed a selectivity of 0.87±0.01. The results reported herein demonstrate the potential application of ATPS, particularly ethanol-potassium phosphate systems, for the recovery of crocins from C. sativus stigmas. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Publication date

  • May 4, 2012