Extraction Optimization of Bioactive Alkaloids from Veratrum californicum

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Student Presentation

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Owen McDougal


Veratum californicum, also known as “Corn Lily”, grows in the mountains of the northwest United States. The corn lily is a plant rich in steroidal alkaloids. Among the most bioactive of these alkaloids is cyclopamine, a Hedgehog (Hh) pathway inhibitor, which has played a significant role in our understanding of the pathogenesis of many types of cancers, developmental biology, and stem cell differentiation. Traditionally cyclopamine was extracted from the root and rhizome of the plant with benzene. More recently, our lab has used ethanol under alkaline conditions to increase the recovery of cyclopamine. The current work describes alkaloid extraction efficiency as a function of pH and extraction time using Soxhlet reflux. The goal of this research is to determine the optimum extraction conditions to obtain cyclopamine from plants harvested in the Boise National Forest. Alkaloid containing ethanolic extracts were analyzed by high pressure liquid chromatography coupled to a mass selective detector (HPLC-MS). Results of this investigation will be presented including the optimal pH for alkaloid extraction solvent and the ideal time for Soxhlet reflux that provides the highest yield of target component.

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