Geographical classification of Iranian and Italian saffron sources based on HPLC analysis and UV–Vis spectra of aqueous extracts

  • Solmaz TabtabaeiEmail author
  • Angelo Antonio D’Archivio
  • Maria Anna Maggi
  • Marlon Brutus
  • Diwash H. Bajracharya
  • Dinara Konakbayeva
  • Akbar Soleimani
  • Hassan Brim
  • Hassan Ashktorab
Original Paper


Twenty-nine different Iranian and Italian saffron samples have been characterized using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) equipped with UV–Vis detection as well as ultraviolet–visible (UV–Vis) spectroscopy methods by preparing aqueous extracts according to the ISO 3632 standard. UV–Vis spectral data in the wavelength range of 200–600 nm and the intensities of the chromatographic peaks attributed to picrocrocin, safranal and crocetin esters were considered as variables in principal component analysis (PCA) and linear discriminant analysis (LDA) methods to classify Iranian and Italian saffron samples based on their geographical origin. The geographical classification results based on HPLC data indicated safranal, cis-crocetin (β-d-gentiobiosyl)(β-d-glucosyl) ester (C3Gg), trans-crocetin (β-d-neapolitanosyl)(β-d-glucosyl) ester (T4ng), and trans-crocetin (β-d-gentiobiosyl)(β-d-glucosyl) ester (T3Gg) as the most discriminant. The best classification performance was achieved by the UV–Vis spectra where the most discriminant regions can be associated with both cis- and trans-crocins (326–327 and 260–264 nm), safranal (310 nm), picrocrocin (240–250 nm), and kaempferol derivatives (265 and 340–350 nm).


Iranian and Italian saffron Crocetin esters Picrocrocin Safranal Linear discriminant analysis Principal component analysis 



This project was funded in part through Provost Office, Dean of College of Engineering and Architecture (CEA), and Department of Chemical Engineering at Howard University (Washington, DC).  The authors would like to thank Dr. Silvia Bisti for her invaluable comments and highly beneficial suggestions as to the translational perspectives of our work. We would like to thank Gulf Pearls SPRL (Brussels, Belgium,, Zarin and Saharkhiz companies that provided saffron for our research studies. In addition, we would like to thank all the growers and people involved in the production of this golden spice, saffron.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Compliance with ethics requirements

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Solmaz Tabtabaei
    • 1
    Email author
  • Angelo Antonio D’Archivio
    • 2
  • Maria Anna Maggi
    • 3
  • Marlon Brutus
    • 1
  • Diwash H. Bajracharya
    • 1
  • Dinara Konakbayeva
    • 1
  • Akbar Soleimani
    • 4
  • Hassan Brim
    • 4
  • Hassan Ashktorab
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringHoward UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche e ChimicheUniversità degli Studi dell’AquilaL’AquilaItaly
  3. 3.Hortus NovusL’AquilaItaly
  4. 4.Department of Medicine, Department of Pathology and Cancer CenterHoward University College of MedicineWashingtonUSA

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