The use of countercurrent chromatography in the separation of nonpolar lipid compounds

Walter Vetter*, Simon Hammann, Marco Müller, Michael Englert, Yining Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Isolation of lipophilic compounds by countercurrent chromatography (CCC) is a challenge because biphasic solvent systems in which these compounds distribute evenly are difficult to obtain. In this article we present novel applications of lipid compound isolation from natural sources. Conjugated linolenic acids (CLnAs, log KOW ∼7) were isolated from pomegranate oil using a solvent system consisting of n-heptane/methanol/water 100:91:9 (v/v/v). The CLnA fraction was free of other fatty acids but consisted of different isomers which were not resolved from each other. In the less polar range (log KOW ∼12), three tocotrienols (α-, γ- and δ-tocotrienol) were isolated from a vitamin E capsule produced from palm oil by using the solvent system n-hexane/acetonitrile/benzotrifluoride (BTF) at a ratio of 10:6.5:3.5 (v/v/v). Between 36 and 65 mg of each of the three tocotrienols were obtained in one injection with purities >97%. Advantages and disadvantages of the “BTF system” are discussed by comparing the phase composition with the simple n-hexane/acetonitrile system and by the fractionation of phytosterols (log KOW ∼9.5) from rapeseed oil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2017


  • BTF system
  • Conugated linolenic acids
  • Countercurrent chromatography
  • Lipid compounds
  • Tocotrienols

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