Flash column chromatography prepacked with molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) has been successfully used for the extraction of shikimic acid from Chinese star anise. The shikimic acid imprinted polymer with an adsorption capacity of 21.94 mu mol g(-1) dry polymer and imprinting factor of 4.2 was prepared using the dispersion polymerization method. The capacity of the MIP-Flash column was determined as 23.3mg g(-1) using a frontal chromatography method when 10m mol L-1 shikimic acid was eluted through the MIP-flash column at 1.7mL min(-1). The crude extract of Chinese star anise loaded on the column was eluted with ethanol/water (40/60, v/v) to remove the impurities, after elution with methanol/water/acetic acid (32/48/20, v/v/v), purified shikimic acid (>95%) was obtained. The MIP-flash column can be reused for at least 4 rounds with capacity lost less than 15%. It was demonstrated that, compared with HPLC, flash column chromatography prepacked with MIPs is a more rapid, feasible, and economical method for the extraction of active ingredients from plants on a large scale based on the technology of molecular imprinting.
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