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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Design of optimal solvent for extraction of bio–active ingredients from six varieties of Medicago sativa

Angela Caunii1, George Pribac2, Ioana Grozea3, Dorin Gaitin3 and Ionel Samfira3*

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Medicine and Pharmacy, “Victor Babes” 2A Eftimie Murgu Square, Timisoara, 300041, Romania

2 Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and Dental Medicine, “Vasile Goldis” Western University, Arad, Romania

3 Plant Protection Department, Grassland Department, Banat’s University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine from Timisoara, Calea Aradului no. 119, Timisoara, 300645, Romania

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Chemistry Central Journal 2012, 6:123  doi:10.1186/1752-153X-6-123

Published: 26 October 2012



Extensive research has been performed worldwide and important evidences were collected to show the immense potential of plants used in various traditional therapeutic systems. The aim of this work is to investigate the different extracting solvents in terms of the influence of their polarity on the extracting ability of bioactive molecules (phenolic compounds) from the M. sativa flowers.


The total phenolic content of samples was determined using the Folin Ciocalteu (FC) procedure and their antioxidant activity was assayed through in vitro radical decomposing activity using the radical DPPH° assay (IUPAC name for DPPH is (phenyl)–(2,4,6–trinitrophenyl) iminoazanium). The results showed that water was better than methanol and acetic acid for extracting bioactive compounds, in particular for total phenolic compounds from the flowers of alfalfa. The average content of bioactive molecules in methanol extract was 263.5±1.02 mg GAE/100g of dry weight lyophilized extract. The total phenolic content of the tested plant extracts was highly correlated with the radical decomposing activity. However, all extracts were free–radical inhibitors, but the water extract was more potent than the acetic and the methanol ones. The order of inhibitor effectiveness (expressed by IC50) proved to be: water extract (0.924mg/mL) > acetic acid extract (0.154mg/mL) > methanol (0.079mg/mL). The profiles of each extract (fingerprint) were characterized by FT–MIR spectroscopy.


The present study compares the fingerprint of different extracts of the M. sativa flowers, collected from the wild flora of Romania. The total phenolic content of the tested plant extracts was highly correlated with the radical decomposing activity. The dependence of the extract composition on the solvent polarity (acetic acid vs. methanol vs. water) was revealed by UV–VIS spectrometry and Infrared fingerprint.

Graphical abstract