Objective: To evaluate the effect of different fractions of Black Maca (Lepidium meyenii), obtained from the hydroalcoholic extract, on spermatogenesis.
Design: Animal study.
Setting: Animal and laboratory facilities at a university.
Animal(s): Forty two adult male rats from the Holtzman strain (3 months old).
Intervention(s): Hydroalcoholic extract of Black Maca was partitioned with the following solvents: petroleum ether, chloroform, ethyl acetate, n-butanol, and water to obtain each fraction. Forty-two rats were divided in different groups according the fraction administered and vehicle. The hydroalcoholic extract of Black Maca and its fractions and vehicle were given orally by gavage for 7 days.
Main outcome measure(s): Daily sperm production, epididymal sperm count, and sperm count in the vas deferens.
Result(s): Daily sperm production was higher in the ethyl acetate group compared with all other groups. The epididymal sperm count was higher in rats treated with ethyl acetate fraction compared with rats treated with vehicle (control), petroleum ether, n-butanol, or water fractions. The sperm count in vas deferens was lower in rats treated with ethyl acetate, petroleum ether, or water fractions compared with the control group; thus, the sperm count in vas deferens in rats treated with chloroform and n-butanol fractions was higher than in the petroleum ether group.
Conclusion(s): The greatest effect on spermatogenesis was observed in the ethyl acetate fraction from the hydroalcoholic extract of Black Maca, suggesting that the compounds related to the beneficial effect on sperm production of Black Maca are presented in this fraction. Antioxidant components could play a role in the effect of increased epididymal sperm concentration observed in the model.