Lepidium meyenii (Walp.), commonly called maca, is an Andean crop belonging to the Brassicaceae family. Maca hypocotils are habitually consumed as customary food as well as traditional remedies for pathological conditions such as infertility. Moreover, the characterization of maca extracts revealed the presence of compounds that are able to modulate the nervous system. Aimed to evaluate the efficacy of L. meyenii in persistent pain, the present study analyzed the effects of a commercial root extract from maca in different animal models reproducing the most common causes of chronic painful pathologies. A qualitative characterization of this commercial extract by high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and tandem mass spectrometry analyses allowed us to confirm the presence of some macamides known as bioactive constituents of this root and the absence of the main aromatic glucosinolates. The acute oral administration of maca extract is able to reduce mechanical hypersensitivity and postural unbalance induced by the intra-articular injection of monoiodoacetate and the chronic-constriction injury of the sciatic nerve. Furthermore, L. meyenii extract reverts pain threshold alterations evoked by oxaliplatin and paclitaxel. A good safety profile in mice and rats was shown. In conclusion, the present maca extract could be considered as a therapeutic opportunity to relieve articular and neuropathic pain.
Keywords: Lepidium meyenii; arthritis; macamide; neuropathy; persistent pain.