Dragendorff's reagent: Historical perspectives and current status of a versatile reagent introduced over 150 years ago at the University of Dorpat, Tartu, Estonia

A. Raal (Coresponding Author), A. Meos, T. Hinrikus, J. Heinämäki, E. Romāne, V. Gudienė, V. Jakštas, O. Koshovyi, A. Kovaleva, C. Fursenco, T. Chiru, H. T. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The well-known Dragendorff's reagent (DR) was introduced by an Estonian-German Professor Johann Georg Noel Dragendorff (1836-1898) in the middle of the 19th century (1866). Dragendorff, who was a full-time professor in pharmacy at the university of Dorpat (Tartu) used his reagent originally for the rapid screening of herbal products to find traces of alkaloids. DR is a solution of potassium bismuth iodide composing of basic bismuth nitrate (Bi(NO3)3), tartaric acid, and potassium iodide (KI), and when contact with alkaloids DR produces an orange or orange red precipitate. In this review article, we make a short historical overview on the biography and scientific research work of Professor Dragendorff at the University of Dorpat. The chemistry, method of preparation, mechanism of action, and practical uses of DR in various disciplines in various European countries including the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), Finland, Ukraine, Moldova, and in Asia (Vietnam), are also discussed. Over several decades, DR and its modifications have found uses in many new applications and disciplines, and a number of commercial DRs are also currently available on the market. Today, DR is used for example in the production of surfactants, where non-ionic surfactant is precipitated in water solution with modified DR (KBiI4+BaCl2+glacial acetic acid). Total six different potassium iodobismuthate (DR) solutions are also presented in the European Pharmacopoeia. In conclusion, DR (after more than 150 years of its invention in Estonia) has still an important role in pharmaceutical and related sciences all over the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
JournalPharmazie
Volume75
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

Keywords

  • acetic acid
  • alkaloid derivative
  • bismuth derivative
  • bismuth nitrate
  • Dragendorff reagent
  • herbaceous agent
  • potassium iodide
  • iodine derivative
  • potassium derivative
  • unclassified drug

Field of Science

  • 3.1 Basic medicine

Publication Type

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database

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