Determination of astaxanthin and astaxanthin esters in the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis by LC-(APCI)MS and characterization of predominant carotenoid isomers by NMR spectroscopy

Holtin, Karsten; Kuehnle, Maximilian; Rehbein, Jens; Schuler, Paul; Nicholson, Graeme; Albe, Klaus
November 2009
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Nov2009, Vol. 395 Issue 6, p1613
Academic Journal
The oily product ZANTHIN® consists of natural astaxanthin, which is manufactured from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis by supercritical CO2 extraction. An HPLC method was developed to separate all of the components of the complex astaxanthin extract using a C30 column. The separation resulted in different isomers of astaxanthin accompanied by two other carotenoids. The main component consisted of astaxanthin singly esterified with several different fatty acids. C18:3, C18:2, C18:1 and C16:0 were identified as the most commonly occurring fatty acids. Doubly esterified astaxanthin was also found, although in lower concentrations compared to singly esterified astaxanthin. After performing a detailed fatty acid analysis by GC-MS, the peaks from the extract were assigned via HPLC-MS. A trans to cis transmutation of the all- trans compound was performed by thermal treatment in order to obtain an enrichment of cis isomers as the basis for unambiguous identification via NMR experiments. The all- trans as well as the 9- and 13- cis isomers of astaxanthin were characterized in detail by UV/Vis, 1H, and 1H,1H COSY NMR spectroscopy.


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