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Phytochem Anal. 2013 Nov-Dec;24(6):623-30. doi: 10.1002/pca.2441. Epub 2013 May 30.

New and highly efficient column chromatographic extraction and simple purification of camptothecin from Camptotheca acuminata and Nothapodytes pittosporoides.

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Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Biotechnology for Plant Development, College of Life Sciences, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China, 510631.



Camptothecin, a widely used natural anti-cancer drug, is difficult to extract and purify effectively from plants.


To develop new and highly efficient extraction and purification methods for analysis and production of camptothecin from leaves and fruits of Camptotheca acuminata and Nothapodytes pittosporoides roots.


Dried materials were loaded in empty columns with fivefold 60% ethanol for leaves or 70% ethanol for fruits of C. acumnata, and sixfold 70% ethanol for N. pittosporoides roots. The columns were eluted with the same solvents at room temperature. Eluent was collected as extraction solution. Extraction solution from leaves and fruits of C. acuminata was vacuum-evaporated to remove ethanol, precipitated at pH 8.0 to remove alkaline insolubles and fractionated with chloroform at pH 3.0, which yields a crude product with 70% purity. Extraction solution from N. pittosporoides roots was concentrated to 1/10 volume and precipitated at pH 3.0, which yields a crude product with 60% purity. All crude products were purified by crystallisation. All steps were monitored by HPLC.


Camptothecin was extracted from the three plant materials at a 98% rate with 15- or 18-fold solvent for content analysis, or at a 97% rate with five- or sixfold solvent for production. All crude products were purified to 98%. The overall recovery rates of camptothecin from plant materials to purified products reached 92% or higher.


The new procedures are simple and highly efficient, and have multiple advantages for quantitative analysis and large production of camptothecin from plants.


Camptotheca acuminata; Nothapodytes pittosporoides; analysis; camptothecin; column chromatographic extraction; production; purification

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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