Cation-exchange solid-phase and liquid-liquid extraction for the determination of khat alkaloids by reversed phase HPLC-DAD

  • M. Atlabachew
  • S. Combrinck
  • R. I. McCrindle
Keywords: Khat alkaloids, Solid phase extraction, Liquid-liquid extraction, HPLC, Genevac


Leaves of khat (Catha edulis) are masticated to elicit their psycho-stimulating properties, resulting from the presence of the phenylpropylamino alkaloids. The determination of these alkaloids is important in pharmacological, phytochemical, forensic and law enforcement environments. In this study, the use of strong cation exchange-solid phase extraction (SCX-SPE) was investigated as an alternative means of sample purification prior to the determination of cathinone, cathine and norephedrine by reversed phase (C18) high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Extraction parameters for SCX, including loading capacity and washing solvents, were established. An existing liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) method was improved in terms of recoveries obtained, by using ethyl acetate as extractant. For pure standards of the khat alkaloids, recoveries ranged from 83 to 97%. Preconcentration, using a Genevac evaporator after the addition of acidified water to the sample, restricted analyte losses when compared to concentration under nitrogen. Although comparable recoveries were obtained when preconcentration was achieved in the presence of acidified water by rotary evaporation, this method is not suitable for large sample numbers. Best recoveries, ranging from 94 to 102%, were obtained by SCX from spiked samples. Although the extraction efficiencies of LLE were lower (87-90%), LLE yielded less complex chromatograms, indicating a purer extract.


KEY WORDS: Khat alkaloids, Solid phase extraction, Liquid-liquid extraction, HPLC, Genevac


Bull. Chem. Soc. Ethiop. 2015, 29(3), 331-339.



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eISSN: 1726-801X
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