Objective: To evaluate the effect of long-term ethanol extract of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on serum hormone levels in ovariectomized (OVX) rats and compare them with the effect of diethylstilbestrol.
Materials and methods: Fifty female Sprague-Dawley rats were ovariectomized or sham operated. Both sham and OVX control groups (n = 10, respectively) received the vehicle. The remaining OVX rats were oral administrated with ethanol extract of Maca (0.096, or 0.24g/kg; n = 10, respectively) and diethylstilbestrol (0.05 mg/kg; n = 10). The treatment continued for 28 weeks. At week 12 and week 28, the blood of rats was collected and serum hormone levels, including estradiol (E2), testosterone (T) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) were measured by radioimmunoassay.
Results: At week 12, the levels of serum E2 were slightly higher in Maca groups than that in OVX group; T levels were significantly decreased; and FSH levels were advanced slightly in Maca groups than that in sham group. After 28 weeks administration, serum E2 levels in Maca-treated animals did not differ significantly from sham control, the low dose of Maca increased serum E2 levels, and Maca prevented increase in serum FSH levels compared with OVX group.
Conclusions: Long-term Maca supply modulates endocrine hormone balance in OVX rats, especially it decreases enhanced FSH levels. It is proposed that Maca may become a potential choice for postmenopausal women.
Keywords: Lepidium meyenii; maca; ovariectomized rats; serum hormone.