Background: Epidemiological studies have found that consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. This effect seems to be due to aromatic glucosinolate content. Glucosinolates are known for have both antiproliferative and proapoptotic actions. Maca is a cruciferous cultivated in the highlands of Peru. The absolute content of glucosinolates in Maca hypocotyls is relatively higher than that reported in other cruciferous crops. Therefore, Maca may have proapoptotic and anti-proliferative effects in the prostate.
Methods: Male rats treated with or without aqueous extracts of three ecotypes of Maca (Yellow, Black and Red) were analyzed to determine the effect on ventral prostate weight, epithelial height and duct luminal area. Effects on serum testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) levels were also assessed. Besides, the effect of Red Maca on prostate was analyzed in rats treated with testosterone enanthate (TE).
Results: Red Maca but neither Yellow nor Black Maca reduced significantly ventral prostate size in rats. Serum T or E2 levels were not affected by any of the ecotypes of Maca assessed. Red Maca also prevented the prostate weight increase induced by TE treatment. Red Maca administered for 42 days reduced ventral prostatic epithelial height. TE increased ventral prostatic epithelial height and duct luminal area. These increases by TE were reduced after treatment with Red Maca for 42 days. Histology pictures in rats treated with Red Maca plus TE were similar to controls. Phytochemical screening showed that aqueous extract of Red Maca has alkaloids, steroids, tannins, saponins, and cardiotonic glycosides. The IR spectra of the three ecotypes of Maca in 3800-650 cm (-1) region had 7 peaks representing 7 functional chemical groups. Highest peak values were observed for Red Maca, intermediate values for Yellow Maca and low values for Black Maca. These functional groups correspond among others to benzyl glucosinolate.
Conclusions: Red Maca, a cruciferous plant from the highland of Peru, reduced ventral prostate size in normal and TE treated rats.