Preservation of Cognitive Function by Lepidium meyenii (Maca) Is Associated with Improvement of Mitochondrial Activity and Upregulation of Autophagy-Related Proteins in Middle-Aged Mouse Cortex

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:4394261. doi: 10.1155/2016/4394261. Epub 2016 Aug 28.


Maca has been used as a foodstuff and a traditional medicine in the Andean region for over 2,000 years. Recently the neuroprotective effects of maca also arouse interest of researchers. Decrease in mitochondrial function and decline in autophagy signaling may participate in the process of age-related cognitive decline. This study aimed to investigate if maca could improve cognitive function of middle-aged mice and if this effect was associated with improvement of mitochondrial activity and modulation of autophagy signaling in mouse cortex. Fourteen-month-old male ICR mice received maca powder administered by gavage for five weeks. Maca improved cognitive function, motor coordination, and endurance capacity in middle-aged mice, accompanied by increased mitochondrial respiratory function and upregulation of autophagy-related proteins in cortex. Our findings suggest that maca is a newly defined nutritional plant which can improve mitochondrial function and upregulate autophagy-related proteins and may be an effective functional food for slowing down age-related cognitive decline.