Hypocotyls of Lepidium meyenii (maca), a plant of the Peruvian highlands, prevent ultraviolet A-, B-, and C-induced skin damage in rats

Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2008 Feb;24(1):24-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0781.2008.00330.x.


Background: Lepidium meyenii (maca) is a plant that grows exclusively in the Peruvian Central Andes, where ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is predominant.

Objective: Determine if two extracts of maca can provide dermal protection against UVR.

Methods: We have administered two maca extracts (0.13 mg/ml), one obtained after boiling and the other without boiling, on the dorsal surface of male Holtzman rats exposed to UVC radiation once a week during 3 consecutive weeks. A dose-response effect of an aqueous extract of maca after a boiling process under exposure of rats to UVA, UVB, or UVC was also studied. A commercial sunscreen was used as a positive control.

Results: UVR caused significant increase in skin epidermal thickness. The epidermal height in animals treated with maca was similar to those who did not receive UVR. The aqueous extract of maca after a boiling process had better effect than maca extract without a boiling process. A dose-response effect was observed with increasing doses of aqueous extract of maca after a boiling process. Maca extract had benzyl glucosinolates and polyphenols.

Conclusions: Maca extracts protect the skin of rats against UV irradiations and can be suggested as an alternative means of solar protection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Hypocotyl
  • Lepidium*
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Peru
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Sunburn / prevention & control
  • Sunscreening Agents / administration & dosage
  • Sunscreening Agents / pharmacology*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Plant Extracts
  • Sunscreening Agents