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  • 1 National Institute of Chemistry Laboratory for Food Chemistry Hajdrihova 19 SI-1001 Ljubljana Slovenia
  • 2 EN-FIST Centre of Excellence Dunajska 156 SI-1000 Ljubljana Slovenia
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Separation of three triterpenic acids (ursolic, oleanolic and betulinic acid) was achieved on different thin-layer chromatography (TLC) (silica gel 60) and high-performance thin-layer chromatography (HPTLC) sorbents (silica gel 60, C2 RP and C18 RP) using several developing solvents, based on the non-polar diluent n-hexane, and ester (methyl acetate, ethyl acetate, ethyl propionate) as selector. Anisaldehyde and molybdophosphoric acid detection reagents were used. Finally, a simple method on a C18 RP HPTLC plate was developed using n-hexane-ethyl acetate (5:1 v/v) as a developing solvent in a horizontal developing chamber. The method was used for the screening of ursolic, oleanolic and betulinic acids in different vegetable extracts. Other plant triterpenoids (lupeol, α-amyrin, β-amyrin, cycloartenol, lupenone, friedelin, lupeol acetate, cycloartenol acetate) and phytosterols (β-sitosterol, stigmasterol) did not interfere. TLC-MS was used as a tool for the additional confirmation of the presence of ursolic, oleanolic, and betulinic acids in some of the studied vegetable extracts. Ursolic and oleanolic acids were found in radicchio Leonardo and white-colored radicchio di Castelfranco extracts for the first time, while betulinic acid was not detected in the eggplant extract by MS, although it was suggested at first by TLC analysis. Pre-chromatographic bromination on the HPTLC silica gel 60 plates and subsequent development in toluene-chloroform-diethyl ether-formic acid (20:16:4:0.1, v/v) provided a superior resolution of these compounds.

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