• International Journal of Technology (IJTech)
  • Vol 11, No 3 (2020)

Upscaling the Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass) Extraction Process to Obtain Optimum Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitor (AGI) Levels

Upscaling the Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass) Extraction Process to Obtain Optimum Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitor (AGI) Levels

Title: Upscaling the Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass) Extraction Process to Obtain Optimum Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitor (AGI) Levels
Diah Indriani Widiputri, Ivana Julisantika, Irvan Setiadi Kartawiria, Maria DPT Gunawan-Puteri, Florence Ignatia

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Cite this article as:
Widiputri, D.I., Julisantika, I., Kartawiria, I.S., Gunawan-Puteri, M.D., Ignatia, F., 2020. Upscaling the Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass) Extraction Process to Obtain Optimum Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitor (AGI) Levels. International Journal of Technology. Volume 11(3), pp. 532-543

Diah Indriani Widiputri Swiss German University, The Prominence Tower, Jl. Jalur Sutera Barat No.15, Alam Sutera, Tangerang, 15143, Indonesia
Ivana Julisantika Swiss German University, The Prominence Tower, Jl. Jalur Sutera Barat No.15, Alam Sutera, Tangerang, 15143, Indonesia
Irvan Setiadi Kartawiria Swiss German University, The Prominence Tower, Jl. Jalur Sutera Barat No.15, Alam Sutera, Tangerang, 15143, Indonesia
Maria DPT Gunawan-Puteri Swiss German University, The Prominence Tower, Jl. Jalur Sutera Barat No.15, Alam Sutera, Tangerang, 15143, Indonesia
Florence Ignatia Swiss German University, The Prominence Tower, Jl. Jalur Sutera Barat No.15, Alam Sutera, Tangerang, 15143, Indonesia
Email to Corresponding Author

Upscaling the Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass) Extraction Process to Obtain Optimum Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitor (AGI) Levels

Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass) has a great potential to be commercialized as an anti-diabetic medication due to its alpha glucosidase inhibitor (AGI) activity. To achieve this goal, this paper continues the study of extraction optimization at the pilot scale to determine the effect of sample quantities on AGI activity. This experiment comprised three phases: designing the percolator, optimizing the process parameters and conditions, and determining the correlation between various sample quantities and AGI activity. The effects of macerating the plant material prior to percolation and using different solvent flow rates during extraction were observed. Four different variations were used in the extraction process trials: 63.09 cm3 s-1, 94.64 cm3 s-1, 126.20 cm3 s-1, and 189.30 cm3 s-1. Sample quantities of 400 g and 500 g were used to upscale the analysis. The results showed that maceration did not significantly increase AGI activity (P?<?0.17), but it did shorten the time needed to reach equilibrium concentration. Similarly, the solvent flow rate variations did not affect AGI activity (P?<?0.078), but they shortened the extraction time. A significant decrease in AGI activities was observed when switching from laboratory to pilot scale, and an even greater decrease in AGI activity was observed when the sample quantity was increased to pilot scale. It was therefore concluded that lemongrass extract can only be used to maintain optimal AGI activity at the maximum sample quantity of 300 g for the percolator designed in this research, which produced an extraction yield of 39.45±1.59%.

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitor; Cymbopogon citratus; Diabetes; Lemongrass; Upscaling extraction


Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a metabolic disease in which a person’s body does not produce insulin or respond to insulin, causing hyperglycemia or high concentrations of blood glucose (Jones et al., 2012). If not treated, diabetes can cause blindness, kidney failure, and cardiovascular disease (Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, 2018). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes caused 1.6 million deaths in 2016 (WHO, 2018). Synthetic medications are available to treat diabetes; however, according to Basu et al. (2019), by 2030 treating diabetes could become a serious problem due to both the limited amount of insulin available and poor access, defined as the availability and affordability of diabetic medications in middle- and low-income countries such as Indonesia (Chow et al., 2018). In order to solve this problem, alternatives such as plant-based medications have gained popularity due to their availability and fewer side effects. Many technologies have been developed to increase plants’ therapeutic properties (Suryanegara et al., 2015; Zhou et al., 2017) in order to promote diabetic patients’ awareness of self-monitoring and self-control of their blood sugar level (Dewi et al., 2017), including plant-based medications.

Plants such as Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass), commonly known as serai in Indonesia, have anti-diabetic properties due to the presence of bioactive compounds in their aqueous extract that act as an ?- (alpha-)glucosidase inhibitor (AGI) (Adiyoga et al., 2015). Alpha-glucosidase is an enzyme located in the epithelium of the small intestine that breaks down oligosaccharides and polysaccharides to monosaccharides such as glucose. Inhibiting ?-glucosidase thus reduces the production of glucose and slows down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, thereby preventing hyperglycemia (Kumar et al., 2011; Kang et al., 2013).

Despite its scientifically proven anti-diabetic benefits, the commercialization of C. citratus has not been explored in depth. At present its commercial value lies primarily in its lemony tang, which is used as flavoring agent and fragrance (Widiputri et al., 2019). It is thus of interest to further explore how the anti-diabetic benefits of C. citratus in aqueous extract can be commercialized. Several studies have already been conducted to investigate how to commercialize C. citratus as an anti-diabetic therapy. These studies were conducted on a laboratory scale in order to determine the optimum extraction parameters and the most suitable pre-treatments for C. citratus, adapted from the industrial-scale process. The optimum extraction conditions suggested were using a fresh-herb-to-aqueous-solvent ratio of 3:10 (w/w) at 70°C, subjecting it to a pre-treatment process that includes washing it once and drying it in an oven at 40°C, and subjecting it to extraction for 40 minutes (Gunawan-Puteri et al., 2016; Widiputri et al., 2017).

Even though laboratory-scale optimization has been conducted, direct commercialization is not possible because the laboratory process may have other parameters that are overlooked and could cause significant problems when the scale is increased. This can increase the risk of commercial failure. It is therefore important to optimize the extraction process on a pilot scale first, utilizing a typical industrial extractor (percolator) to identify which parameters affect the process and to further study the effect of upscaling the AGI activity of lemongrass extract.


In conclusion, the upscaling of Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass) extraction revealed that AGI activity decreased as the sample quantity was increased. This decrease in AGI activity was also found when a percolator was applied in a pilot scale, although the extraction yield increased significantly. In order to maintain optimum AGI activity, the maximum sample quantity used in the percolator designed for this study was 300 g, and the implementation of an initial maceration treatment is suggested. In order to further expand the operating capacity of such a process, modification of the operating conditions must be considered; such a change might require improving the solvent flowing profile through the sample bed in the percolator.


    The author would like to thank the Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education of the Republic of Indonesia (Ristekdikti) for funding this project (contract nos. 209/M/KPT/2018; 7/E/KPT/2019 and AGMT/REC/A0010/III/2019). The help and support from lecturers and laboratory assistants in the Faculty of Life Sciences and Technology of Swiss German University are also acknowledged.


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