Skip to main content

Lepidium meyenii Walp (red maca) Supplementation Prevents Acrylamide-Induced Oxidative Stress and Liver Toxicity in Rats: Phytochemical Composition by UHPLC–ESI–MS/MS


Lepidium meyenii Walp (red maca) is a high Andean plant cultivated since the Incas and has innumerable therapeutic properties. The study aims to identify its phytochemical composition using UHPLC–ESI–MS/MS, and evaluate its effects on acrylamide-induced oxidative stress. The lyophilized aqueous extract of red maca (LAqE-RM) was orally administered in doses of 1 and 2 g/kg body weight for 4 weeks. Malondialdehyde (MDA) levels in erythrocytes, brain, and liver, as well as hepatic levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) were determined. Administration of acrylamide for 2 and 4 weeks significantly increased (p < 0.001) MDA levels in erythrocytes, brain, and liver. However, LAqE-RM prevented (p < 0.001) an increase in MDA levels in all tissues studied. Likewise, the groups treated with LAqE-RM presented significantly (p < 0.001) lower levels of ALT and AST compared to the control. Treatment with LAqE-RM ameliorated the acrylamide-induced oxidative stress by reducing MDA levels in erythrocytes, brain, and liver and by lowering liver levels of ALT and AST in a dose-dependent manner. Twenty-five secondary metabolites were identified and characterized from LAqE-RM based on UHPLC mass spectrophotometry. These include carbolines, alkamides, fatty acids, and macamides, which are probably involved in their antioxidant protective role.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Data Availability

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article and its supplementary information files.


  1. Semla M, Goc Z, Martiniaková M et al (2017) Acrylamide: a common food toxin related to physiological functions and health. Physiol Res 66:205–217.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Mottram DS, Wedzicha BL, Dodson AT (2002) Acrylamide is formed in the Maillard reaction. Nature 419:448–449.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Pelucchi C, Bosetti C, Galeone C, La Vecchia C (2015) Dietary acrylamide and cancer risk: an updated meta-analysis. Int J Cancer 136:2912–2922.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Besaratinia A, Pfeifer GP (2007) A review of mechanisms of acrylamide carcinogenicity. Carcinogenesis 28:519–528.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Tareke E, Rydberg P, Karlsson P et al (2002) Analysis of acrylamide, a carcinogen formed in heated foodstuffs. J Agric Food Chem 50:4998–5006.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Zhao M, Zhang B, Deng L (2022) The mechanism of acrylamide-induced neurotoxicity: current status and future perspectives. Front Nutr 9:488.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Yousef MI, El-Demerdash FM (2006) Acrylamide-induced oxidative stress and biochemical perturbations in rats. Toxicology 219:133–141.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Su LJ, Zhang JH, Gomez H et al (2019) Reactive oxygen species-induced lipid peroxidation in apoptosis, autophagy, and ferroptosis. Oxid Med Cell Longev 2019:1–13.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Ybañez-Julca RO, Asunción-Alvarez D, Palacios J, Nwokocha CR (2021) Maca extracts and estrogen replacement therapy in ovariectomized rats exposed at high altitude. Reprod Med Biol 20:88–95.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Gonzales GF, Gasco M, Lozada-Requena I (2013) Role of Maca (Lepidium meyenii) consumption on serum interleukin-6 levels and health status in populations living in the Peruvian Central Andes over 4000 m of altitude. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 68:347–351.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Pan Y, Zhang J, Li H et al (2016) Characteristic fingerprinting based on macamides for discrimination of maca (Lepidium meyenii) by LC/MS/MS and multivariate statistical analysis. J Sci Food Agric 96:4475–4483.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Ybañez-Julca RO, Quispe-Díaz IM, Asunción-Alvarez D et al (2021) Antidepressant-like behavioral and spatial memory effects in Peruvian Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii)-Treated rats. Pharmacogn J 13:81–88.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Yang Q, Jin W, Lv X et al (2015) Effects of macamides on endurance capacity and anti-fatigue property in prolonged swimming mice. Pharm Biol 54:827–834.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Ibrahim RM, Ghada ⊥, Elmasry F et al (2022) Lepidium meyenii (Maca) roots: UPLC-HRMS, molecular docking, and molecular dynamics. ACS Omega 7:17339–17357.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  15. Tafuri S, Cocchia N, Carotenuto D et al (2019) Chemical analysis of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) and its effects on redox status and on reproductive biology in stallions. Molecules 24:1981.

    CAS  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  16. Xu YQ, Qiao SY, Wang ZQ et al (2021) Quantitative determination of 15 active components in Lepidium meyenii with UHPLC-PDA and GC-MS. J Anal Methods Chem 2021:1–10.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Zhou Y, Li P, Brantner A et al (2017) Chemical profiling analysis of Maca using UHPLC-ESI-Orbitrap MS coupled with UHPLC-ESI-QqQ MS and the neuroprotective study on its active ingredients. Sci Rep 71(7):1–14.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Xia C, Deng J, Pan Y et al (2021) Comprehensive profiling of macamides and fatty acid derivatives in maca with different postharvest drying processes using UPLC-QTOF-MS. ACS Omega 6:24484–24492.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  19. Večeřa R, Orolin J, Škottová N et al (2007) The influence of maca (Lepidium meyenii) on antioxidant status, lipid and glucose metabolism in rat. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 62:59–63.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Zhang L, Zhao Q, Wang L et al (2017) Protective effect of polysaccharide from maca (Lepidium meyenii) on Hep-G2 cells and alcoholic liver oxidative injury in mice. Int J Biol Macromol 99:63–70.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. El Badawy SA, Ogaly HA, Abd-Elsalam RM, Azouz AA (2021) Benzyl isothiocyanates modulate inflammation, oxidative stress, and apoptosis: Via Nrf2/HO-1 and NF-κB signaling pathways on indomethacin-induced gastric injury in rats. Food Funct 12:6001–6013.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Gonzales GF, Miranda S, Nieto J et al (2005) Red maca (Lepidium meyenii) reduced prostate size in rats. Reprod Biol Endocrinol 3:1–16.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Yábar E, Pedreschi R, Chirinos R, Campos D (2011) Glucosinolate content and myrosinase activity evolution in three maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) ecotypes during preharvest, harvest and postharvest drying. Food Chem 127:1576–1583.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Korkmaz S (2018) Antioxidants in maca (Lepidium meyenii) as a supplement in nutrition. In: Antioxidants in foods and its applications (pp: 138-154). InTechOpen.

  25. Acaroz U, Ince S, Arslan-Acaroz D et al (2018) The ameliorative effects of boron against acrylamide-induced oxidative stress, inflammatory response, and metabolic changes in rats. Food Chem Toxicol 118:745–752.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Knockaert L, Berson A, Ribault C et al (2011) Carbon tetrachloride-mediated lipid peroxidation induces early mitochondrial alterations in mouse liver. Lab Investig 92:396–410.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Rivadeneyra-Domínguez E, Becerra-Contreras Y, Vázquez-Luna A et al (2018) Alterations of blood chemistry, hepatic and renal function, and blood cytometry in acrylamide-treated rats. Toxicol Reports 5:1124–1128.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Chen HW, Yen CC, Kuo LL et al (2020) Benzyl isothiocyanate ameliorates high-fat/cholesterol/cholic acid diet-induced nonalcoholic steatohepatitis through inhibiting cholesterol crystal-activated NLRP3 inflammasome in Kupffer cells. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 393:114941.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Zheng W, Du S, Tian M et al (2018) Lepidium meyenii Walp exhibits anti-inflammatory activity against ConA-induced acute hepatitis. Mediators Inflamm 2018:1–11.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Demirdag K, Yilmaz S, Ozdarendeli A et al (2003) Levels of plasma malondialdehyde and erythrocyte antioxidant enzyme activities in patients with chronic hepatitis B. Hepatogastroenterology 50:766–770

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Wang S, Zhu F (2019) Chemical composition and health effects of maca (Lepidium meyenii). Food Chem 288:422–443.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Gan J, Feng Y, He Z et al (2017) Correlations between antioxidant activity and alkaloids and phenols of maca (Lepidium meyenii). J Food Qual 2017:1–10.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported by the Canon Minero project (R.R. N° 0262–2021/UNT) of the National University of Trujillo (UNT), and Fondecyt-Chile 1200610 to Javier Palacios.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Conceptualization: Roberto O. Ybañez-Julca, Javier Palacios; Formal analysis and investigation: Daniel Asunción-Alvarez, Ricardo Diego Duarte Galhardo de Albuquerque, Ivan Quispe-Díaz. Writing—original draft preparation: Daniel Asunción-Alvarez, Roberto O. Ybañez-Julca; Writing—review and editing: Daniel Asunción-Alvarez, Javier Palacios, Chukwuemeka R. Nwokocha. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Roberto O. Ybañez-Julca.

Ethics declarations

Competing Interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Ethics Approval

The experimental protocols were approved by the Ethics Committee for animal research of the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo (Res.Cons. Univ. No. 0361–2018/UNT). All institutional and international guidelines for the care and use of laboratory animals (NIH, 2013) were followed.

Consent to Participate

Not applicable.

Consent for Publication

Not applicable.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors have no competing interests to declare that are relevant to the content of this article.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary file1 (DOCX 1040 KB)

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ybañez-Julca, R.O., Palacios, J., Asunción-Alvarez, D. et al. Lepidium meyenii Walp (red maca) Supplementation Prevents Acrylamide-Induced Oxidative Stress and Liver Toxicity in Rats: Phytochemical Composition by UHPLC–ESI–MS/MS. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 77, 460–466 (2022).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Acrylamide
  • Lepidium meyenii
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Oxidative stress