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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 4394261, 9 pages
Research Article

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

1School of Physical Education and Sports Science, Soochow University, Suzhou 215021, China
2Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, School of Public Health, Soochow University, 199 Renai Road, Suzhou 215123, China
3Department of Pharmacology and Laboratory of Aging and Nervous Diseases, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Preventive and Translational Medicine for Geriatric Diseases, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Translational Research and Therapy for Neuro-Psycho-Diseases, Soochow University School of Pharmaceutical Science, Suzhou 215123, China

Received 8 May 2016; Revised 26 July 2016; Accepted 2 August 2016

Academic Editor: Yiu W. Kwan

Copyright © 2016 Shan-Shan Guo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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.