Purpose: The direct effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on sperm remain unclear. Herein, we examined the direct effect of Maca on in vitro fertilization.
Methods: We examined the fertilization rate in a mouse model and the rate of acrosome reaction in sperm from transgenic mice expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) in a Maca extract-containing human tubal fluid (HTF) medium. Using human sperm, we assessed acrosome status via fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated peanut agglutinin (FITC-PNA) staining and performed detailed analysis using a sperm motility analysis system (SMAS).
Results: In the mouse model, the fertilization rate in the Maca extract-containing HTF was significantly higher than that in the control medium. The acrosome reaction rate in sperm from transgenic mice expressing EGFP was also significantly higher in the Maca extract-containing HTF than that in the control medium. Similarly, a high acrosome reaction rate, identified via FITC-PNA staining of human sperm samples, was found in the Maca extract-containing HTF compared with that in the control medium. Human sperm motility in the Maca extract-containing HTF was also increased compared with that in the control medium as measured using an SMAS.
Conclusions: Maca improved in vitro fertilization rates by inducing an acrosome reaction and increasing sperm motility.
Keywords: Lepidium meyenii; Maca; acrosome reaction; in vitro fertilization; sperm motility.