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Smallanthus sonchifolius (yacon) and Lepidium meyenii (maca) were the traditional crops of the original population of Peru where they are also still used in folk medicine. These plants are little known in Europe and Northern America although at least yacon can be cultivated in the climatic conditions of these regions. This article deals with the botany and the composition, the structure of main constituents, biological activity of these plants and the cultivation of yacon in the Czech Republic. The potential of yacon tubers to treat hyperglycemia, kidney problems and for skin rejuvenation and the antihyperglycemic and cytoprotective activity of its leaves seems to be related mostly to its oligofructan and phenolic content, respectively. Maca alkaloids, steroids, glucosinolates, isothicyanates and macamides are probably responsible for its aptitude to act as a fertility enhancer, aphrodisiac, adaptogen, immunostimulant, anabolic and to influence hormonal balance. Yacon and maca are already on the European market as prospective functional foods and dietary supplements, mainly for use in certain risk groups of the population, e.g. seniors, diabetics, postmenopausal women etc.
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119
SMALLANTHUS SONCHIFOLIUS AND LEPIDIUM MEYENII
PROSPECTIVE ANDEAN CROPS FOR THE PREVENTION OF CHRONIC DISEASES
Kateřina Valentová, Jitka Ulrichová
Institute of Medical Chemistry and Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Palacký University, Hněvotínská 3,
775 15 Olomouc, Czech Republic
Received: September 10, 2003; Accepted: October 15, 2003
Key words: Yacon / Maca / Phytochemistry / Biological activity
Smallanthus sonchifolius (yacon) and Lepidium meyenii (maca) were the traditional crops of the original population
of Peru where they are also still used in folk medicine. These plants are little known in Europe and Northern America
although at least yacon can be cultivated in the climatic conditions of these regions. This article deals with the botany
and the composition, the structure of main constituents, biological activity of these plants and the cultivation of yacon
in the Czech Republic. The potential of yacon tubers to treat hyperglycemia, kidney problems and for skin rejuvenation
and the antihyperglycemic and cytoprotective activity of its leaves seems to be related mostly to its oligofructan and
phenolic content, respectively. Maca alkaloids, steroids, glucosinolates, isothicyanates and macamides are probably
responsible for its aptitude to act as a fertility enhancer, aphrodisiac, adaptogen, immunostimulant, anabolic and to
inuence hormonal balance. Yacon and maca are already on the European market as prospective functional foods and
dietary supplements, mainly for use in certain risk groups of the population, e.g. seniors, diabetics, postmenopausal
women etc.
Biomed. Papers 147(2), 119–130 (2003)
© K. Valentová, J. Ulrichová
INTRODUCTION
An optimal diet is frequently a good preventive mea-
sure against chronic diseases. Classic examples abound in
the use of diet in the control of blood cholesterol levels,
blood glucose level regulation and control, arteriosclerosis
and diabetes risk factor lowering, dietary substitution of
estrogenic hormones in menopause, inuence on osteo-
arthritis development, osteoporosis and digestive tract
cancer, amelioration of some neurological illnesses, im-
provement of impaired immunity and lowering of food
contaminant toxic eects. Plant products that have posi-
tive physiological eects on the human organism can be
classied as follows: (i) functional foods and (ii) dietary
supplements (nutraceuticals), that is, concentrated, che-
mically characterised and standardised mixtures of com-
pounds originating from plants, e.g. plant extracts. In all
food products with demonstrable physiological eects,
there is a specic group of compounds responsible, these
include biogenic elements, avonoids, phytosterols, poly-
saccharides including ber, β-D-glucans, polyunsaturated
fatty acids and other components with positive physiologi-
cal activity.
The health status of people in developed countries is
becoming so alarming, that market expansion in preven-
tive, inexpensive, physiologically eective and safe func-
tional foods and dietary supplements for risk groups of
the population including the elderly is desirable. Of these
foods, most traditional Andean crops, apart from potatoes
and maize are practically unknown in Europe despite the
fact that they served for centuries to enable native popu-
lations to survive severe climatic conditions
1
. Tuber and
root crops are predominantly cultivated in the Andes:
these include several potato varieties, Solanum tuberosum,
S. andigenum, S. ajanhuiri, S. stenotomum, S. goniocalyx,
S. phureja
2
(Solanaceae), also ahipa (Pachyrhizus ahipa,
Leguminosae), arracacha (Arracacia xanthorrhiza, Apia-
ceae), mashua or añu (Tropaeolum tuberosum, Tropaeo-
laceae), sweet potato (Ipomoea batata, Convolvulaceae),
mauka (Mirabilis expansa, Nyctaginaceae)
3
yacon (Small-
anthus sonchifolius)
4
and maca (Lepidium meyenii)
5, 6
. This
review focuses on the two last crops, yacon and maca. The
former can be successfully cultivated in the European cli-
mate. Yacon (S. sonchifolius, Asteraceae (Compositae)) is
a Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) related plant.
Maca (L. meyenii, Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)) is related to
watercress (L. sativum) and among ethnopharmacologists
known as Peruvian ginseng.
BOTANY AND HISTORY
Yacon and related plants were originally classied
under the genus Polymnia (Asteraceae, Heliantheae, Me-
lampodinae)
4, 7–9
, although the genus Smallanthus (Astera-
ceae, Heliantheae), rediscovered by Robinson
10
in 1978
along with 21 other species, had already been proposed
in 1933. The new classication, Smallanthus sonchifolius
(Poepp. & Endl.), is currently preferred while the old
name Polymnia sonchifolia Poepp. & Endl. is considered
as synonymous
4, 11
. The name Polymnia edulis also appears
in the literature
11
. Yacon is a perennial plant forming
120
121
K. Valentová, J. Ulrichová
Smallanthus sonchifolius and Lepidium meyenii
prospective Andean crops for the prevention of chronic diseases
a clump of more then twenty
12, 13
big underground tubers
weighing from 100–500 g, exceptionally more than one
kilogram. These resemble dahlia tubers
9
. Their shape and
size depend on the particular clone, but in most cases the
tubers are irregularly spindle-shaped, sometimes almost
round-shaped. They are edible and colourless if freshly
harvested. The epidermis becomes rapidly dark after
exposure to air. Under the epidermis, cortex tissue with
a slightly resinous taste is found and under this, mild yel-
lowish esh with a fruit taste
6
. The whole plant is much
less resistant to frost than the Dahlia which is why its cul-
tivation is limited to a much shorter period in European
climates compared to its country of origin
6
. Apart from
tuberous roots, yacon also forms short caudices, growing
directly on the basal part of the main stem. These are usu-
ally used for the vegetative propagation of yacon (genera-
tive reproduction capability was lost during evolution
4
).
Yacon propagation through tissue leaf culture is currently
studied
14
. The stem can reach 2 m in height; it is densely
foliaged with dark green leaves and covered by violet-co-
loured trichomes. The inorescence is small, about 30 mm
in diameter, with a yellow or orange colour. It grows at
the top of the main stem and also on other stems growing
from lower nodal buds. Flower production is quite limited
in yacon, more so than in barren Smallanthus species. The
fruits are black, about 2 mm small achenes. The somatic
chromosome number has been found
15
to be 2n = 60 and
this is in accordance with the cytological analysis of our
clone material. In early evolutionary periods, Andean
farmers had already recognized the properties of yacon
and had transformed the plant into a cultivated crop. Ya-
con is found in burial grounds from centuries before the
Incas
2
. The oldest yacon representation on textile and ce-
ramics has been found in a littoral archaeological deposit
Nazca (500–1200 A.C.)
4
. The rst written allusion on
yacon comes from the chronicler Padre Bernabé Cobo
12
(1653). In the Andes, yacon is cultivated at altitudes of
880 to 3500 m. Its cultivation extends from Venezuela to
northwestern Argentina
12
. In most cases, just a few plants
are cultivated for family consumption
4
. From the Andes,
yacon was transferred in the 80’ies of the 20
th
century
through the New Zealand to Japan
6
. Its cultivation was
successfully introduced into Italy, Germany, France
and USA though yacon is still not remarkably diused
there. In Italy, yacon tubers are used to produce alcohol
and inulin
12
. In 1993, it was introduced into the Czech
Republic in the form of caudices originating from New
Zealand
6
. More recently, it has also been introduced into
Russia
16, 17
.
The genus Lepidium belongs to the family Brassicaceae
(Cruciferae) like other important crops such as, e.g. rape,
cabbage, head cabbage, radish, garden cress or mustard;
members of this genus are distributed throughout all con-
tinents
5
. The genus probably originates in the Mediterra-
nean basin; long-distance dispersal during the late Tertiary
and Quaternary period was probably responsible for the
colonization of these species to the Americas and Aus-
tralia. The genus consists of approximately 175 species;
some of them are cultivated, e.g. garden cress (L. sativum).
Maca (L. meyenii Walp. syn. L. peruvianum Chacón, re-
views
6, 18, 19
) is cultivated over the whole of South America
as a starch crop. L. peruvianum Chacón is found exclusive-
ly in Peru
20, 21
. The aerial part of L. meyenii forms a rosette
of 12–20 leaves like in radish, but the foliage forms a mat,
growing in close contact with the soil. The main stem is
reduced while the underground part is a storage organ re-
sembling turnip
1, 20
. For simplicity, we will call this organ,
formed by the taproot and the lower part of the hypocotyl,
just “hypocotyl”. This is the economic product of maca.
The hypocotyls display a variety of colours from purple to
cream and yellow (the Peruvians distinguish 4 cultivars,
cream, purple, red and black
1, 22
). They are about 10–14 cm
in length and 3–5 cm in width, with a solid consistency
20
.
Maca is an annual crop completing its life cycle within
a year when climatic conditions are favourable. The seeds,
its only means of propagation, have no dormancy, germi-
nating in 5–7 days at 25 °C under good moisture condi-
tions. A single plant of maca produces approximately 14 g
of seeds
5
. It is probably an autogamous species. The basic
genomic chromosome number in Lepidium is x = 8. Maca
is an octoploid with 2n = 8x = 64 chromosomes
21
. The
direct ancestor of L. meyenii are unknown, but they are
none of the three main wild Lepidum species from the An-
des i.e. L. bipinnatidum, L. kalenbornii nor L. chichicara.
Cultivated maca (L. meyenii) is also the only species in
the entire genus that produces eshy roots
23
. The rst far-
mers and herdsmen lived in the Andes before 2000 B.C.
and maca was probably domesticated between 1300 and
2000 years ago. Primitive maca cultivars have been found
in archaeological sites from about 1600 B.C. (ref.
2
). Inter-
estingly, maca is not depicted on old Peruvian ceramics,
so rich in agricultural crop pictures
1
. Knowledge of this
plant and its activities was transferred from generation to
generation. During Spanish colonization, the native peo-
ple used maca as currency
20
. Although maca is adapted
to high altitudes and extremely low temperatures (it even
grows more quickly at lower temperatures
21
), it can be
successfully transplanted to the Peruvian seacoast
20
. It
is a plant with a neutral reaction to day length
5, 21
and it
can be successfully cultivated outside its natural locali-
ties
5
. We have obtained maca hypocotyls in the Czech
Republic, but these are smaller than the Peruvian ones.
More recently, maca has been introduced into Russia
24
.
It is not yet entirely known, how the climate changes
inuence its spectrum of components. According to so-
me researchers
25
, particularly harsh conditions give to
maca its strength and potency. In lower altitudes, such
as in Germany, maca does not form hypocotyls
25
. In the
Czech Republic, hypocotyls are formed only in elds, not
in greenhouses and dierences in chemical composition
(higher content of proteins and nitrates and lower content
of saccharides) compared to commercial maca powder
were observed
26
. It seems that for hypocotyl formation
a cold climate is important.
120
121
K. Valentová, J. Ulrichová
Smallanthus sonchifolius and Lepidium meyenii
prospective Andean crops for the prevention of chronic diseases
CHEMISTRY
The chemical composition of aerial and underground
parts of yacon and of dried maca
27
hypocotyls (fresh ma-
ca contains up to 80 % of water and its composition was
not found in the literature) is shown in Table 1. Yacon
composition diers according to author
4, 9, 28
. For compari-
son, composition of the Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus
tuberosus)
29
and of radish (Raphanus sativus)
30
is also
presented in Table 1.
Table 1. Composition of yacon tubers, leaves and stems
4, 9, 28
, Jerusalem artichoke tubers
29
,
of dried maca
27
and radish
30
hypocotyls.
Yacon
Jerusalem
artichoke
Maca Radish
Stem Leaf Tuber Tuber Hypocotyl Hypocotyl
Water
%
10.47 93–70 80 10.4
c
88.8
Proteins 9.73
a
21.48
a
0.4–2.0 10–15
b
10.2
c
1.9
Saccharides 12.5 60–76
b
59.0
c
6.6
Lipids 1.98 4.2 0.1–0.3 1
b
2.2
c
Ash 9.60 12.52 0.3–2.0 5
b
4.9
c
1.2
Fibre 23.82 11.63 0.3–1.7 4–6
b
8.5
c
Calcium
mg/100 g
967 1805 23 23 150
c
1.2
Phosphorus 415 543 21 99 0.7
Iron 7.29 10.82 0.3 3.4 16.6
c
0.02
Copper <0.5 <0.5 0.963 5.9
c
Manganese <0.5 3.067 0.541 0.8
c
Zinc 2.93 6.20 0.674 traces 3.8
c
Retinol 10
Thiamine 0.01 0.28
c
0.05
Ascorbate 13.10 traces 8.00
c
20.0
Carotene 0.02
Riboavin 0.11 traces 0.65
c
0.05
Niacin 0.34 traces 0.30
a
Content of N-substances;
b
Content in solid matter;
c
Content in dried hypocotyl
Saccharides
Yacon tubers contain as storage compounds mainly
fructans with low glucose content. Their structure is of
the inulin type, i.e. β(2→1)fructofuranosylsaccharose (see
Table 2), of the same type as in other Asteraceae species,
e.g. Jerusalem artichoke
31
. Similar low DP fructans have
been used as sucrose substitutes; they are considered
dietetic. They have a favourable inuence on the human
intestinal ora and can modify some hyperlipidemias.
Humans have no enzyme capable of hydrolysing the
β(2→1)bond
2
. β(2→1)fructans of the inulin type are thus
dietary bre or the indigestible residues of plant origin in
human diet
32
.
Recently, oligofructans have been classied as prebio-
tics
33
. These are not digested in the human gastrointestinal
tract and they are transported to the colon where they are
fermented by selected species of gut micro-ora, espe-
cially Bidobacterium and Lactobacillus, both indicators
of a balanced gut ora. Studies in voluntary subjects have
demonstrated that prebiotic consumption modies gut
ora composition and its metabolic activities. Probably
through this action they also modulate lipid metabolism,
calcium absorption, childhood immune systems and gut
function. The prebiotic eect of yacon tuber extracts has
been demonstrated by their fermentation by several com-
mon gut bacteria Lactobacillus plantarum, L. acidophilus
and Bidobacterium bidum
34
. β(2→1)fructans are related
to β-glucans, native polysaccharides from yeast and fungi,
which act as non-specic immunostimulators. They bind
specically to macrophages, activate them and initiate
the immunity cascade. β-Glucans are recommended for
the treatment of immunity defects, infections, allergies,
chronic fatigue syndrome, high cholesterol levels, stomach
problems and as an adjuvant in carcinoma therapy
35
.
Yacon tubers are also rich in free fructose, glucose
and sucrose
8
. Saccharide and the related enzyme content
122
123
K. Valentová, J. Ulrichová
Smallanthus sonchifolius and Lepidium meyenii
prospective Andean crops for the prevention of chronic diseases
in tubers uctuates during cultivation and storage; during
cultivation, the degree of polymerisation in the fructans
increases while it declines during storage, increasing in
content of fructose, glucose and sucrose
34, 36, 37
. Similar
changes in composition occur also in the Jerusalem arti-
choke, so far the greatest source of inulin and fructose
38
.
The enzymes involved in oligofructans metabolism and
also the oligosaccharides themselves have been recently
isolated and identied from yacon tubers and caudices
in dierent stages of growth. According to one study
39
,
eight months after planting is the best yacon harvest time
in tropical regions.
Hydrolysable saccharides constitute 59.0 % of dried
maca hypocotyls
27
. In our hands
26
, maca dehydrated pow-
der contained 29.56 % of saccharides (1.55 % fructose,
23.4 % sucrose and 4.56 % oligosaccharides, HPLC) and
89 % sucrose (HPLC) representing about 50 % of dry
weight was precipitated from maca methanol extract
40
.
Table 2. Content of saccharides in yacon tubers
(according to ref.
8
).
Component Content (mg/g DW)
Fructose
350.1 ± 42.0
Glucose
158.3 ± 28.6
Sucrose
74.5 ± 19.0
GF
2
60.1 ± 12.6
GF
3
47.4 ± 8.2
GF
4
33.6 ± 9.3
GF
5
20.6 ± 5.2
GF
6
15.8 ± 4.0
GF
7
12.7 ± 4.0
GF
8
9.6 ± 7.2
GF
9
6.6 ± 2.3
inulin 13.5 ± 0.4
G = glucose. F = fructose. GF
n
= glukosylfructose
Phenolics
Phenolics (203 mg/100g, ref.
41
), tryptophane
(14.6 ± 7.1 μg/g) and chlorogenic acid
11
(48.5 ± 12.9 μg/g)
in particular have been identied in yacon tubers. Re-
cently, ve caeic acid derivatives as main water-soluble
phenolics have been isolated
42
. These were identied as
chlorogenic (3-caeoylquinic, I) and 3,5-dicaeoylquinic
(II) acids and three caeic and altraric acids esters
(2,4 or 3,5-dicaeoylaltraric (III and IV), 2,5-dicaeoyl-
altraric (V) and 2,3,5 or 2,4,5-tricaeoylaltraric acids
VI and VII). The same researchers also isolated from
yacon tubers derivatives of octulosonic acid (VIII and
IX, ref.
43
, Fig. 1). Chlorogenic, ferulic and caeic acids
have also been found in yacon tubers in our laboratory.
After hydrolysis, we have also identied quercetin and
2 other avonoids
44
. Yacon tubers have been identied as
a good source of phenol oxidase, the enzyme catalysing
oxygenation of phenolic compounds to quinones that after
polymerisation, give the typical brown to black pigments
known from enzymatic browning of fruits and vegetables
and observed also in yacon
45
.
We have already described the presence of caeic,
chlorogenic and ferulic acids in yacon leaves detected
using HPLC/DAD-MS in ethyl acetate extract from the
leaves of yacon
46
. The presence of the phenolic acids was
then conrmed by HPLC coupled with electrochemical
detection (HPLC-ECD)
47
together with identication
of gallic and gentisic acid. Recently, we have described
a detailed analysis of phenolic compounds from three
extracts of S. sonchifolius leaves
44
. We conrmed chloro-
genic, caeic and ferulic acid, three isomers of dicae-
oylquinic acids (M
r
= 516), an additional still unknown
derivative of chlorogenic acid (M
r
= 562) and an equally
unknown avonoid by HPTLC and HPLC/MS. These
compounds were then also conrmed in yacon leaves,
stems, caudices and tubers
48
. Flavonoid compounds
with antimitotic activity have been isolated from related
S. fruticosus, particularly centaureidin (X) (4,5,7-trihy-
droxy-3,6-dimethoxy-avone)
49
(Fig. 2).
Fig. 1. Caeic acid derivatives found in yacon tubers
6
5
4
3
2
1
OH
R
2
O
OH
OR
1
OH
O
I  R
1
=caffeoyl, R
2
=H
II
 R
1
=R
2
=caffeoyl
2
3
4
5
H
R
1
O
OR
2
OR
3
OR
4
H
H
H
1
OH
O
6
OH
O
III  R
1
=R
3
=caffeoyl, R
2
=R
4
=H
IV
 R
2
=R
4
=caffeoyl, R
1
=R
3
=H
V  R
1
=R
4
=caffeoyl, R
2
=R
3
=H
VI
 R
1
=R
2
=R
4
=caffeoyl, R
3
=H
VII
 R
1
=R
3
=R
4
=caffeoyl, R
2
=H
O
OH
OH
Caffeo
y
l =
5
O
1
7
O
OR
2
R
1
O
OH
OH
COOH
H
H
H
H
H
VIII  R
1
= H, R
2
= caffeoyl
IX R
1
= R
2
= caffeoyl
122
123
K. Valentová, J. Ulrichová
Smallanthus sonchifolius and Lepidium meyenii
prospective Andean crops for the prevention of chronic diseases
Catechins (2.5 mg/g of hypocotyls DW) have also
been identied in maca hypocotyl aqueous extract. This
displayed antioxidant activity. From comparison with
green tea the authors concluded that this activity is due
to maca isothiocyanates rather than to the catechins
50
.
O
O
OH
OH
OH
OMe
OMe
MeO
X
Fig. 2. Centaureidin
Terpenes
A methanol extract of yacon leaves contained ent-
kaurenoic acid (XI) and related diterpenoid substances
(ent-kaur-16-en-19-oic acid 15-angeloyloxy ester (XII),
18-angeloyloxy-ent-kaur-16-en-19-oic acid (XIII) and
15-angeloyloxy-ent-kauren-19-oic acid 16-epoxide (XIV)
(Fig. 3). These compounds probably play a certain physio-
logical role in the defense mechanisms of this plant and
it is highly pest-resistant
51
. Its antifungal activity has also
been attributed to 4-hydroxystyrene and 3,4-dihydroxysty-
rene that are formed in yacon damaged leaves by oxida-
tive decarboxylation of p-coumaric and caeic acids by
enzymatic systems of epiphytic bacteria
52, 53
. Ent-kaurenoic
acid is one of the terpenoid phytohormone gibberellins
biosynthesis intermediates in Gibberella fujikuroi
54
. Ent-
kaurene is responsible for the antibacterial activity of
Brazilian propolis from native stingless bees Melipona
quadrifasciata anthidioides
55
. Antifungal sesquiterpene
lactones of the melampolide type sonchifolin (XV) (8-an-
geloyl-1(10),4,11(13)-germacratrien-12,6-olid-14-oic acid
methyl ester), polymatin B (XVI) (acetoxy derivative at
C-9 of sonchifolin), uvedalin (XVII) (polymatin derivative
with epoxidised angeloyloxy group) and enhydrin (XVIII)
(epoxy derivative of uvedalin)
56
have been isolated from
70 % methanolic extract from the leaves (Fig. 4). Son-
chifolin, uvedalin, enhydrin, and related compounds
uctuanin XIX, -tigloyloxymelampolid-14-oic acid
methyl ester XX and 8β-methacryloyloxymelampolid-
4-oic acid methyl ester XXI (Fig. 4) from yacon leaves
exhibited also antimicrobial activity
58
. These substances
are also contained in other Smallanthus species, e.g.
S. uvedalia
57
(which contain ceteri paribus enhydrin
59
),
S. fruticosus
60
and S. maculatus, as well as species from
the genus Melampodium (Asteraceae)
61
, which has given
the name to these compounds. Sesquiterpene lactones
from S. maculatus displayed anti-inammatory activity
62
.
Sesquiterpene lactones seem to be a chemotaxonomic
Asteraceae sign. They are regularly present in plants
from this family and they display strong biological ac-
tivity, e.g. artemisin and related sesquiterpene lactones
from Artemisia annua display antimalaric
63
and cytotoxic
activities against bone narrow and tumour cells
64
, repin
from Acroptilon repens is toxic against embryonic sensory
neurones
65
. Hypocretenolides from Leotodon hispidus
are cytotoxic against cancer cells
66
. Germacran type ses-
quiterpene lactones have been among other compounds
(avonoids, coumarins, phenolic acids, triterpenoids,
steroids and gaian type sesquiterpene lactones) isolated
from dandelion (Taraxacum ocinale Web.), which is
used in traditional medicine for its choleretic, diuretic
and anti-inammatory activities
67
.
R
1
R
2
R
3
XI
-H -CH
3
-H
XII
-CH
3
-H
XIII
-H -H
R
2
H
H
COOR
3
H
R
1
H
H
H
O
COOH
O
O
C O
O
XIV
CO
CH
2
O
Fig. 3. Ent-kaurenoic acid and its derivatives from yacon leaves
124
125
K. Valentová, J. Ulrichová
Smallanthus sonchifolius and Lepidium meyenii
prospective Andean crops for the prevention of chronic diseases
Alkaloids
Already in 1961, alkaloids named macaine 1, 2, 3 and
4 (ref.
20, 27
) were found in maca hypocotyls. These com-
pounds, not structurally characterized, were found in ac-
etone, ether and ethanolic extracts. Chacón de Popovici
20
deduced from her experiments (see below) that the maca
active constituents are precisely these alkaloids. Recently,
four alkaloids have been identied as (1R,3S)-1-methyl-
tetrahydro-β-carboline-3-oic acid
68
XXII, a benzylated
1,2-dihydro-N-hydroxypyridine derivative named macari-
dine
69
XXIII and two imidazole alkaloids
70
1,3-dibenzyl-
4,5-dimethylimidazolium chloride XXIV named lepidilin
A and 1,3-dibenzyl-2,4,5-trimethylimidazolium chloride
XXV named lepidilin B (Fig. 5). An alkaloid named lepi-
dine XXVI (Fig. 6) is present in the related garden cress
(L. sativum).
R
1
R
2
XV
O
-H
XVI
O
-OAc
XVII
O
O
-OAc
XX
O
-H
XXI
O
-H
R
XVIII
O
O
XIX
O
O
OR
OAc
O
COOMe
O
O
O R
1
R
2
O
C O O M e
Fig. 4. Sonchifolin and its derivatives
N
OH
H
O
XXIII
N
H
NH
COOH
CH
3
XXII
N
N
CH
3
CH
3
R
Cl
+
XXIV  R=H
XXV  R=CH
3
Fig. 5. Maca alkaloids
N
N
O
CH
2
CH
2
N
N
XXVI
Fig. 6. Lepidine
Glucosinolates and isothiocyanates
Some authors
5
believe, that active maca constituents
are aromatic isothiocyanates, i.e. benzylisothiocyanate
XXVII and 4-methoxybenzylisothiocyanate XXVIII or
prostaglandins and sterols. Aromatic isothiocyanates
are present in mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum), known
for its aphrodisiac and contraceptive activity in men and
increasing female fertility
71
.
Isothiocyanates, capable of reducing the risk of breast,
stomach and liver cancer, arise in plants from glucosi-
nolates hydrolysis by myrosinase
72
. The glucosinolate con-
tent in maca seeds, sprouts and mature plants as well as
in commercial maca products was recently investigated
73
.
Benzyl glucosinolate XXIX (glucotropaeolin), 4-meth-
oxybenzyl glucosinolate XXX, 5-methyl-sulnylpentyl
glucosinolate XXXI (glucoalyssin), 4-hydroxybenzyl glu-
cosinolate XXXII, pent-4-enyl glucosinolate XXXIII (glu-
cobrassicanapin), indolyl-3-methyl glucosinolate XXXIV
(glucobrassicin) and 4-methoxyindolyl-3-methyl glucosi-
nolate XXXV were found in all samples in dierent ratios.
Maca hypocotyls and also the aerial parts display a strong
disagreeable aroma owing to these compounds
5
. Glucosi-
nolates glucotropaeolin XXIX, 3-methoxyglucotropaeolin
124
125
K. Valentová, J. Ulrichová
Smallanthus sonchifolius and Lepidium meyenii
prospective Andean crops for the prevention of chronic diseases
XXXVI, as well as isothiocyanates benzylisothiocyanate
XXVII, 3-methoxybenzylisothiocyanate XXXVII (Fig. 7)
and other compounds (uridine, malate, benzoylmalate
and the alkaloid XXII) were conrmed in maca hypocotyl
methanolic extract by Piacente et al.
68
.
Other components
4’-Hydroxyacetophenone related antifungal fytoalexins
4’-hydroxy-3’-(3-methylbutanoyl) acetophenone (XXXVIII),
4’-hydroxy-3’-(3-methylbutenyl) acetophenone (XXXIX)
and 5-acetyl-2-(1-hydroxy-1-methylethyl) benzofurane
(XXXX) (Fig. 8) have been isolated by combination of
chromatographic methods from yacon tuber acetone ex-
tract. Identical compounds also exist in other Asteraceae
species
74
.
Maca hypocotyls contain linoleic, palmitic and oleic
acids, aminoacids lysine and arginine
75
, many trace ele-
ments including Mn, Cu, Sn, Al, Zn, Bi; tannins and
saponins. Maca steroid fraction contained brassicasterol
(9.1 %), ergosterol (13.6 %), campesterol (27.3 %), ergos-
tadienol (4.15 %) and sitosterol (45.5 %)
27
. Estrogenicity
of β-sitosterol was demonstrated in the MCF-7 cell line
and in vivo in trout
76
. Benzylated amides (macamides),
N-benzyl-5-oxo-6E,8E-octadecadienamide XXXXI, N-ben-
zylhexadecanamid XXXXII and an acyclic polyunsaturated
5-oxo-6E,8E-octadecadienoic acid macaene XXXXIII were
also found in maca hypocotyls
69
(Fig. 9). The macaenes
and macamides XXXXI–XXXXIII have been utilized
together with the linoleic and linolic acids for maca
commercial products characterization and standardiza-
tion
77
. Macamides may display similar biological eects
as anandamide and anandamide-type compounds, which
were isolated from porcine brain. These compounds have
been found to inhibit specic binding of cannabinoids and
act as competitive ligands
78
.
The essential oil from maca aerial part was analysed in
detail using GC/MS
79
. Up to 53 components were identi-
ed, mainly phenylacetonitrile (85.9 %), benzaldehyde
(3.1 %), 3-methoxyphenylacetonitrile (2.1 %) and benzyli-
sothiocyanate (0.6 %). Ascorbic acid (7.0 % of extract
DW), carotenoids (0.85 %) and avonoids (0.55 %) have
been identied in aqueous-ethanolic maca leaves extract
that displayed antioxidant activity in the system gly-trp +
+ riboavine
24
.
The above-mentioned maca relative garden cress
(L. sativum) is an interesting vitamin C (52 mg in 100 g),
B
1
, K and β-carotene source. Its typical spicy avour is due
to its content of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, espe-
cially glycotropaeolin and benzylisothiocyanate. Garden
cress improves digestion. Another European maca relative,
radish (Raphanus sativus var. nigra), contains ceteri pari-
bus glucobrassicin XXX (3-indoyl-methylglucosinolate),
isothiocyanates and it is traditionally used as choleretic,
cholagogue, to treat bronchitis and burns
80, 81
.
(a) R1 R2
XXVII
H H
XXVIII
CH
3
O- H
XXXVII
H CH
3
O-
(b) R R
XXIX
CH
2
XXXIII
CH
2
CH
CH
2
CH
2
CH
2
XXX
CH
2
CH
3
O
XXXIV
N
CH
2
XXXI
CH
3
SO
CH
2
CH
2
CH
2
CH
2
CH
2
XXXV
N
CH
2
CH
3
O
XXXII
CH
2
OH
XXXVI
CH
3
O
CH
2
C
H
2
N
C
S
R1
R2
OH
OH
OH
OH
S
N
R
O
S
O
O
O
Fig. 7. Benzylisothiocyanates (a) and glucosinolates (b) present in maca
126
127
K. Valentová, J. Ulrichová
Smallanthus sonchifolius and Lepidium meyenii
prospective Andean crops for the prevention of chronic diseases
BIOLOGICAL AND PHARMACEUTICAL
ACTIVITIES, USES
In local Andean markets yacon is classied as a fruit
and sold together with apples, avocados and pineapples
and not together with potatoes or tuber crops as one
could expect. Its tubers have a delicious sweet avour,
they are crispy and native people commonly expose
them to sunlight to increase their sweetness. They are
consumed, peeled, usually in fruit salads together with e.g.
bananas or oranges. They can also be eaten steamed when
they conserve their crispiness to a certain extent and it
is possible to cook or fry them in many dierent ways
6
.
Refreshing juices or concentrates suitable as sweetener
for diabetics can be made from the tubers
4
. Also young
stems can be used as vegetable; the main stem is used as
celeri
2
. In Japan, yacon tubers are processed into juices,
bakery products, fermented beverages, lyophilized powder
or pulp
82
. The suitability of yacon foodstus for diabetic
dishes, diets for weight reduction and for patients with
chronic liver diseases has been shown in a clinical study
performed at Olomouc Faculty Hospital
6
. Yacon tubers
were used for centuries by original Peruvian populations
as a traditional folk medicament to treat hyperglycemia,
kidney problems and for skin rejuvenation. In Brazil, me-
dicinal properties have been ascribed to yacon leaves that
are used to prepare a medicinal tea. In Japan, yacon leaves
and stems are mixed with tea leaves
83
. Yacon aerial parts,
containing large amounts of proteins, can be also used as
green stu for livestock
4
.
Hypoglycemic eects of yacon leaf aqueous extracts
have been demonstrated in normal and diabetic rats
4, 83
.
We have described the antioxidant activity of two extracts
in relation to the content of phenolics
46
. Moreover, we
have shown that extracts exhibited cytoprotective eects
against tert-butyl hydroperoxide and allyl alcohol induced
oxidative damage of rat hepatocytes in primary cultures.
We have also demonstrated that yacon leaf extracts reduce
glucose production in hepatocytes via both gluconeoge-
nesis and glycogenolysis pathway, and their insulin-like
eect was demonstrated on CYP2B and 2E mRNA ex-
pression in Fao cells
84
.
O
O
OH
O
O
OH
O
OH
XXXVII
XXXIX XXXX
Fig. 8. Antifungal phytoalexins from yacon tubers
N
H
O
O
N
H
O
O
OH
O
XXXXI
XXXXIII
XXXXII
Fig. 9. Macaenes and macamides
126
127
K. Valentová, J. Ulrichová
Smallanthus sonchifolius and Lepidium meyenii
prospective Andean crops for the prevention of chronic diseases
Maca is eaten raw or cooked in pachamancas (un-
derground ovens lined with hot stones) or stored dried
for later consumption. Dried maca hypocotyls conserve
their properties for years
5
. The dried roots are eaten after
boiling in water or milk, and are sometimes mixed with
honey and fruits for the preparation of juices, gelatines
or jams, and addition of sugarcane rum for cocktails
and other alcoholic beverages. Native herbalists recom-
mend maca decoction in reconvalescence
20
. Flour is also
prepared from the dried roots for making bread and coo-
kies. Toasted and ground hypocotyls are used to prepare
“maca coee”
5
. Maca is fermented to prepare a beer in
several Peruvian areas
75
. Maca leaves, like garden cress
(L. sativum), are consumed in salads
2
. Complementary
and alternative medicine recommend ground maca hy-
pocotyls as fertility enhancers and aphrodisiacs for men
and livestock. Indian women eat it when they want to get
pregnant
1
. In South America maca is called Peruvian or
Andean Ginseng
1, 5, 85
. Maca is also recommended as an
adaptogen, immunostimulant, anabolic, in menopause
and for inuence on hormonal balance. Maca hypocotyls
are ground and sold as a nutracetical
1
. In Peru, maca is
oered in the form of powder, chips, liqueurs
75
etc., on the
world market it is distributed under the commercial names
Royal Maca™ (ref.
86
), Maca750™ (ref.
87
), MacaMagic™
(ref.
88
), “Maca Andina”
89
, Vimaca®, Eregma power
90
and
MACA
91
. Aphrodisiac eects of maca hypocotyls have
been ascribed especially to its alkaloids, which according
to Natural Health Consultants
86
aect the pituitary-hy-
pothalamus axis. In contrast, MacaMagic producer
HERBS AMERICA NETWORK
88
declare that unique
maca properties are due exclusively to its composition of
essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Chacón de Popovici
20
recommends maca use for treating
malabsorption syndrome, protein deciency disease, du-
ring chemotherapy for leukaemia, AIDS treatment, alco-
holism and menopausal anaemia. Others mention its use
to treat chronic polyarthritis, during allergy attacks and
as laxative
71
. Traditional maca uses are also related to re-
ligious ceremonies; it was mixed with hallucinogens used
in sacricial ceremonies
71
.
Reliable pharmacological conrmation of all cited
eects was missing until very recently. Chacón de Popo-
vici
20
concluded that maca stimulates Graaan follicle
maturation after an experiment on female rats fed maca,
or maca alkaloid extracts for 6 months. In males she ob-
served a clear stimulation of spermatogenesis.
A number of studies showing the aphrodisiac eects
of maca have appeared over the last few years. Positive
eects of a lipidic extract, containing mainly macaenes
and macamides, on mice and rats were described in
2000 (ref.
92
). The extract not only increased the number
of complete intromissions and sperm-positive females
in normal animals, but also decreased latent period of
erection in rats with erectile dysfunction. Application of
maca hypocotyl aqueous extract to male rats induced an
increase in testis size and stimulation of spermatogenesis
in its initial stages
93
. Enhanced sexual behaviour was also
observed when Maca pulverized root was administered
to sexually inexperienced rat males by a gastric tube. The
eect on the parameters tested was already observable
after acute administration and was independent of maca
action on spontaneous locomotor activity
94
. In the same
test, using maca successive hexanic, chloroformic and
methanolic extracts, the hexanic extract was the most
ecient
95
. In adult men, after 4 months maca treatment,
signicant sperm volume, total sperm count and sperm
motility increase was observed. In contrast, serum sexual
hormone level was not aected by the treatment
96–98
.
Progesterone and testosterone levels were increased in
maca treated mice but there were no marked changes in
estradiol levels or in the rate of embryo implantation
99
.
Some compounds with testosterone-like activity, probably
phytosterols, are responsible for maca biological activity.
We have also recently proved estrogenic activity of maca
extracts on MCF-7 estrogen positive cell line
40
.
Maca nutritional properties were evaluated in white
mice
100
. The growth curves in all groups fed maca were
signicantly better than in those of a control group. This
study demonstrates, according to the authors, one of the
traditionally attributed properties of maca, its nutritional
capability.
CONCLUSION
Trends in nutraceuticals and functional foods con-
taining biologically active natural substances are orien-
ted towards intact plants or plant extract utilization in
this millennium. Nutraceuticals are coming to be indis-
pensable diet constituents for all population groups in
the prevention or remedial treatment of many chronic
diseases. Considering the fact that yacon and maca can
be cultivated in the European climatic conditions we
assume that nutraceuticals based on these plants could
be a contribution to the prevention and remediation of
diseases such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease,
fatigue syndrome etc. Promising seem to be the combina-
tion of yacon with silymarin which has been shown to
improve the metabolism of triacylglycerols and glucose
in both humans and rats
101
. The preparations should be
economically accessible to wide public, without adverse
side eects and according to valid legislation
102
. Compre-
hensive yacon and maca investigation is related to low
economic risk and ready application of results.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Supported by grants GACR 303/01/0171, MPO FD-K/096
and MSM 151100003.
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... by Eduard Friedrich Poeppig in 1845. Afterward in 1978 genus Smallanthus (Asteraceae, Heliantheae) was rediscovered by Harold Ernest Robinson, who established the Smallanthus gender by separating Polymnia [76,77]. Yacon is known to mankind for centuries, it was found in burial grounds from centuries before the Incas. ...
... This plant was represented on textile and ceramics in a littoral archeological deposit Nazca (500-1200 A.C.). 1653 is a year of first written allusion on yacon comes from the chronicler Padre Bernabé Cobo [77]. Until the 1980s, the scientific community paid little attention to yacon. ...
... Yacon is a perennial plant with underground tubers that are grouped in clump. Average tuber weight fluctuates from 100 to 500 g, and rarely reaches more than 1 kg [77]. Yacon root tubers have great nutritional potential due to its sweet taste and lower energy content (619-937 kJ/kg of fresh matter) provided by its 70% water composition [78]. ...
Chapter
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Phytochemicals derived from different plants are promising therapeutic agents. Herbal compounds can be used under diseases, etiological causes of which are alterations of carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolisms, along with increased oxidative stress and chronic low-grade inflammation. Potential sources of biologically active substances may be grape wine, rich in phenolic compounds. Well-studied examples of polyphenols are phenolic acids, catechins, anthocyanins, and flavonoids, etc. Another source of biologically active compounds is yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius Poepp. & Endl.). The aboveground part of yacon is rich in phenolic compounds and terpenes. Main biologically active substances from tuberous roots of yacon are fructooligosaccharides and phenolic compounds. The section will be devoted to the analysis of hypoglycemic and antioxidant effects, and molecular targets of the complex of biologically active substances derived from red wine and yacon.
... It has rich nutritional value and can relieve fatigue, improve sleep, and improve sexual function and exhibits antioxidant activity. Maca is called "Peruvian Ginseng" [39][40][41]. Studies have shown that maca has extensive neuroprotective effects both in vivo and in vitro. ...
... In 2000, Zheng BL and others first discovered the unique active substance macamide in maca [41]. Macamide, a type of benzylated or 3-methoxybenzylated alkanamide alkaloid, is a unique secondary metabolite in maca [42]. ...
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Lepidium meyenii (maca) is an annual or biennial herb from South America that is a member of the genus Lepidium L. in the family Cruciferae. This herb possesses antioxidant and antiapoptotic activities, enhances autophagy functions, prevents cell death, and protects neurons from ischemic damage. Macamide B, an effective active ingredient of maca, exerts a neuroprotective effect on neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain damage (HIBD), but the mechanism underlying its neuroprotective effect is not yet known. The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of macamide B on HIBD-induced autophagy and apoptosis and its potential neuroprotective mechanism. The modified Rice-Vannucci method was used to induce HIBD in 7-day-old (P7) macamide B- and vehicle-pretreated pups. TTC staining was performed to evaluate the cerebral infarct volume in pups, the brain water content was measured to evaluate the neurological function of pups, neurobehavioural testing was conducted to assess functional recovery after HIBD, TUNEL and FJC staining was performed to detect cellular autophagy and apoptosis, and Western blot analysis was used to detect the levels of proteins in the pro-survival phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K/AKT) signaling pathway and autophagy and apoptosis-related proteins. Macamide B pretreatment significantly decreases brain damage and improves the recovery of neural function after HIBD. At the same time, macamide B pretreatment activates the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway after HIBD, enhances autophagy, and reduces hypoxic-ischemic (HI)-induced apoptosis. In addition, 3-methyladenine (3-MA), an inhibitor of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, significantly inhibits the increase in autophagy levels, aggravates HI-induced apoptosis, and reverses the neuroprotective effect of macamide B on HIBD. Our data indicate that a macamide B pretreatment might regulate autophagy through the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, thereby reducing HIBD-induced apoptosis and exerting neuroprotective effects on neonatal HIBD. Macamide B may become a new drug for the prevention and treatment of HIBD.
... Its sweet-tasting underground tubers have been used for centuries as a traditional folk medicament by indigenous Peruvian people to treat hyperglycemia, kidney problems and skin rejuvenation. Other countries, such as Brazil and Japan, have attributed yacon leaves medicinal properties, which are used to make a medicinal tea [4]. The leaves of S. sonchifolius were found to contain a variety of chemical compounds which were linked to the health-beneficial properties of this plant when consumed. ...
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Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius (Poepp.) H. Robinson) leaves is traditionally consumed as herbal tea in many countries including Indonesia. This plant’s antidiabetic properties have been extensively researched, but studies on the responsible active compound identification are scarce. Information on the active compounds is critical for the consistency of Yacon herbal tea quality. The aim of this study was to identify α-glucosidase inhibitors in Indonesian Yacon leaves grown in two different locations using FTIR- and LC–MS/MS-based metabolomics in combination with in silico technique. Yacon leaves ethanol (50 and 95%) and water extracts were tested for α-glucosidase inhibitory activity, with the 95% ethanol extract being the most active. Geographical origins were found to have no major impact on the activity. In parallel, chemical profile of Yacon leaves extract was determined using FTIR and LC–MS/MS. Orthogonal Projection to Latent Structure (OPLS) was used to analyze both sets of data. OPLS analysis of FTIR data showed that compounds associated to α-glucosidase inhibitor activity included those with functional groups –OH, stretched CH, carbonyl, and alkene. It was consistent with the result of OPLS analysis of LC–MS/MS data, which revealed that based on their VIP and Y-related coefficient value, nystose, 1-kestose, luteolin-3′-7-di-O-glucoside, and 1,3-O-dicaffeoilquinic acid isomers, strongly linked to Yacon’s α-glucosidase inhibitor activity. In silico study supported these findings, revealing that the four compounds were potent α-glucosidase inhibitors with docking score in the range of − 100.216 to − 115.657 kcal/mol, which are similar to acarbose (− 115.774 kcal/mol) as a reference drug. Graphical abstract
... It has rich nutritional value and can relieve fatigue, improve sleep, and improve sexual function and exhibits antioxidant activity. Maca is called "Peruvian Ginseng" [41][42][43]. Studies have shown that maca has extensive neuroprotective effects both in vivo and in vitro. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Lepidium meyenii (Maca) is an annual or biennial herb from South America that is a member of the genus Lepidium L. in the family Cruciferae. This herb has antioxidant, anti-apoptotic, and enhances autophagy functions and can prevent cell death, and protect neurons from ischemic damage. Macamide B, an effective active ingredient of maca, has a neuroprotective role in neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain damage (HIBD), and the underlying mechanism of its neuroprotective effect is not yet known. The purpose of this study is to explore the impact of macamide B on HIBD-induced autophagy and apoptosis and its potential mechanism for neuroprotection. The modified Rice-Vannucci method was used to induce HIBD on 7-day-old (P7) macamide B and vehicle-pretreated pups. TTC staining was used to evaluate the cerebral infarct volume of pups, brain water content was measured to evaluate the neurological function of pups, neurobehavioral testing was used to assess functional recovery after HIBD, TUNEL and FJC staining was used to detect cell autophagy and apoptosis, and western blot analysis was used to detect the expression levels of the pro-survival signaling pathway phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K/AKT) and autophagy and the apoptosis-related proteins. The results show that macamide B pretreatment can significantly decrease brain damage, improve the recovery of neural function after HIBD. At the same time, macamide B pretreatment can induce the activation of PI3K/AKT signaling pathway after HIBD, enhance autophagy, and reduce hypoxic-ischemic (HI)-induced apoptosis. In addition, 3-methyladenine (3-MA), an inhibitor of PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, significantly inhibits the increase in autophagy levels, aggravates HI-induced apoptosis, and reverses the neuroprotective effect of macamide B on HIBD. Our data indicate that macamide B pretreatment might regulate autophagy through PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, thereby reducing HIBD-induced apoptosis and exerting neuroprotective effects on neonatal HIBD. Macamide B may become a new drug for the prevention and treatment of HIBD.
... An underutilized edible root, Maca is known to contain significant amounts of iodine which is important for thyroid metabolism which leads to health-promoting effects on humans [70,71]. Lee et al., [72] also conducted a study on Maca and found out that it was an important dietary supplement for several health issues known to women including menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, loss of libido and a change in monthly periods. ...
... The researches with its stem are more scarce than its leaves and roots, and its stem is actually discarded or used as animal feed [5,6] . Nevertheless, there are reports that the young stems are used as a vegetable fresh food, in the form of celery, and dried stems used to make tea infusion along with the leaf [7] . Therefore, the yacon stem is promising biomass to be used as a raw fiber material, as it represents a considerable fraction of its chemical composition. ...
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Full-text available
This study aimed to evaluate the process of cellulose extraction from yacon stem using combined pulping and bleaching processes to produce nanofibrillated cellulose (NFC). First, a chemical pulping process with NaOH was applied and, subsequently, the pulp obtained was bleached. From the chemical pulp (CP) bleached, NFC was obtained by the mechanical defibrillation in a colloidal grinder. Then, chemical composition, and infrared analysis of the pulps were performed. The pulping process showed a lower amount of extractives and lignin content, as a low yield and an excessively dark pulp. The CP bleached with NaClO2 showed the best results increased whiteness of the pulp. A suspension of NFC with fibers of 5-60 nm in diameter, high crystallinity index, and thermal stability was obtained. The results are promising and demonstrate the technical feasibility of obtaining NFC from yacon stems waste which is ideal to apply to other materials of the industry. © 2021 Associacao Brasileira de Polimeros. All rights reserved.
... Extracts and preparations from L. meyenii and its various bioactive molecules (eg., macaenes, macamides, phytosterols, and phenolic compounds) have been discussed in several types of researches, exhibiting the plant's potential to improve sexual activity (4) and enhance reproductive health (5), as well as antifatigue (6,7), antioxidant (8)(9)(10), neuroprotective (11)(12)(13)(14)(15), hepatoprotective (16), anticancer (17,18), and immunoregulation (19,20) properties. However, some questions involving security consumption have not been answered yet and can bring risks in some situations. ...
Article
Maca root (Lepidium meyenii) extract is a worldwide consumed food supplement for sexual dysfunctions, increasing sperm production and its motility, and alleviating menopausal symptoms. Once maca root has a role in cell proliferation and motility, and its consumption may increase along with age, mainly in menopausal women, we aimed to investigate the plant effects on triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cell lines. Standardized maca root powdered extract showed significant cytotoxic activity in both MDA-MB-231 and Hs578T cells, and the IC50s were 2000 μg/ml and 3000 μg/ml, respectively. Both cell lines showed an increase in migratory capacity. Using bioinformatics tools, we established genes involved in the metastatic process, CAV1, LAMA4, and MMP-1, and the mRNAs expression was assessed by qPCR. Comparing the treated cells to the negative control, CAV1 presented a decreased expression by 2-fold in MDA-MB-231. LAMA4 presented a decrease by 4-fold in Hs578T cells. MMP-1 showed substantially increase mRNA expression in MDA-MB-231 by 86-fold and in Hs578T by 5-fold. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study indicating that the human consumption of maca may be dangerous due to the upregulation in MMP-1 expression and the increase in TNBC migrated cells.
... Yacon, Smallanthus sonchifolius Poeppig & Endlicher, is a tuberous root crop that has been successfully cultivated in South America (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela), Europe (Germany, Italy, France and Czech Republic), Asia (Japan and China), and many other countries. [40][41][42][43] The leaves of yacon are an important source of medicinal components. 44 A single yacon plant produces 20+ broad leaves and can be over 2 m in height. ...
Article
Background Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) is a broadleaf host plant suitable for rearing the greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood). Here, the possibility of using yacon as an alternative host plant for production of the parasitoid, Encarsia formosa Gahan, one of the most important natural enemies of whiteflies, was explored. Data on the demographic characteristics, parasitism rate, and host‐feeding rate were collected and analyzed using the TWOSEX‐MSChart, CONSUME‐MSChart, and TIMING‐MSChart computer programs, and then contrasted with comparable data from the more commonly utilized host plant, tobacco. Results Higher fecundity (F) (190.13 eggs/female) and more oviposition days (Od) (16.60 d) were observed in E. formosa when yacon was used as the host plant for rearing T. vaporariorum, compared to when tobacco was used (F = 150.13 eggs/female, Od = 15.27 d). The intrinsic rate of increase (r), finite rate of increase (λ), and net reproduction rate (R0) were significantly higher in E. formosa parasitizing T. vaporariorum reared on yacon compared to those parasitizing tobacco‐reared T. vaporariorum. Furthermore, the net host feeding rate (C0 = 40.87 prey/parasitoid), net killing rate (Z0 = 239.73 prey/parasitoid), and finite killing rate (υ = 0.2560 d⁻¹) for E. formosa on yacon‐reared whiteflies were significantly higher than those from tobacco‐reared whiteflies. Conclusion Our results showed that yacon is more suitable than tobacco as a host plant for mass‐rearing E. formosa for biological control programs to manage whiteflies. An innovative application of the multinomial theorem for calculating the exact probability of bootstrap samples in life table research was also introduced. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Smallanthus sonchifolius (Poepp.) H. Rob., (family Asteraceae) commonly known as “yacón” or “yakon”, is an herbaceous perennial species native to South America. Its tuberous roots have a sweet taste and are used as traditional food and eaten either raw alone or in fruit salads. They can be also boiled, baked or used to prepare beverages, syrup or juice. The young stems are used as a vegetable like celery. “Yacón”s roots store large amounts of fructo-oligosaccharides that are not metabolized in the human digestive tract and hence their consumption does not enhance the level of glucose in the blood. “yacón” is traditionally used for the treatment of diabetes in folk medicine. The antidiabetic properties are attributed to the leaves which are dried and used to prepare infusions. Studies have reported that extracts of leaves reduce glycemia in the plasma of diabetic rats and some constituents of “yacón” leaves inhibit the α-glucosidase enzyme involved in diabetes. “Yacón” display other interesting properties such as antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiparasitic and cytotoxic activities in different cancer cells. The most frequently investigated “yacón” secondary metabolites are sesquiterpene lactones (STLs) of the melampolide type, being enhydrin, uvedalin, sonchifolin, and polimatin B the main STLs identified in “yacón” leaves. Flavonoids, phenolic acids, monoterpenes and diterpenes have also been reported.
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Yacon [Smallanthus sonchifolius (Poepp. et Endl.) H. Robinson] (Fig. 1) represents a signifi cant source of antioxidants of phenolic character. Antioxidant polyphenolic complex of yacon is formed mainly by phenolcarboxylic acids. Th ese acids are derived from benzoic and cinnamic acids and could be present in both, free and bound forms with esteric bounds. Yacon tubers contain polyphenolic compounds in amount of 2,030 mg.kg-1, dominant contituent is chlorogenic acid (48.5 ± 12.9 mg.kg-1). Chlorogenic acid (3-O – caff eoylquinic acid) and 3,5-dicaff eoylquinic acid are usual phenolic compounds contained in plants of family Asteraceae. Found in two fractions from the yacon leaves caff eic acid (14.7 and 0.09 mg.g-1), chlorogenic acid (9.9 and 1.7 mg.g-1), protocatechuic acid (2.5 and 0.12 mg.g-1) and ferulic acid in trace amounts. It was confi rmed that caff eic acid was bound in the form of esters with altraric acid as 2,4-or 3,5-dicaff eoylaltraric acid, 2,5-dicaff eoylaltraric acid and 2,3,5- or 2,4,5-tricaff eoylaltraric acid.
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Tubers of yacon (Polymnia sonchifolia or P. edulis), a crop native to the Andean Highlands, contain a large amount of oligofructans. We investigated fluctuation of fructose, glucose, sucrose and oligofructan (GF_2-GF_9) contents during growth and storage by using an HPLC. The average degree of polymerization (DP) of these sugars in the tubers increased during growth. The DP reached to 4.3 at harvest, and decreased again during storage. Glucose, sucrose and GF_2 decreased, whereas the oligofructans larger than GF_4 increased during growth. At harvest, total oligofructan content reached to 67% of dry matter, and the ratio of GF_2-GF_5 accounted for about 70% in the total sugars. Inulin and starch contents in the tubers were only less than 0.23% and 0.04% of dry matter, respectively. The tubers were stored in 3 ways : a soil pit in field, at 5℃ and 25℃. After 2 weeks, total oligofructan content decreased 21% in the soil pit, 33% at 5℃ storage and 41% at 25℃ storage. Oligofructan contents decreased gradually and fructose, glucose and sucrose contents increased during each storage. To efficiently obtain oligofructans from yacon tubers, it will be necessary to prepare them from the tubers just after harvest. For eating yacon tubers, it will be suitable to store them for several weeks.
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A set of 15 maca and 25 yacon genotypes cultivated under field conditions were assessed as to relationships between morphotypes of underground organs, yield parameters, and polymorphism of isozymes. In vitro cultivation and the content of some chemical compounds were also studied. Underground organs of both crops showed a wide variety strongly dependent on environmental factors. The results showed that maca forms small-weight hypocotyls. Differences in chemical composition compared with a commercial source were observed. The highest production (3.8 kg/plant) of yacon tubers was observed in four genotypes. Drying of yacon chips was found to be a good method of preservation. Of 17 analysed enzymatic systems, only esterases showed some degree of polymorphism in both crops, dividing genotypes of maca into two and yacon into six groups. Polymorphism of esterases does not correspond with morphological characters of underground organs of both crops or with total phenolic contents in different genotypes of yacon leaves. Screening of cultivation media demonstrated that concentration of regulators must be optimised to be suitable for in vitro cultivation of maca. The results showed that yacon can be successfully cultivated in Europe in contrast to maca.
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Experiments based on four accessions of maca (Lepdium meyenii) disclosed higher developmental rates in plants grown in neutral pH (6.6) soil when compared with those grown in acidic soil (5.3). Photoperiod response studies revealed similar growth rate for plants grown under either long day or short day condition. Plants in the field and growth chambers completed their life cycle in 11 months or less, therefore maca can be considered an annual crop. These results suggest that the range of adaptation of maca is not as narrow as previously believed, and therefore it can be successfully produced outside its natural habitat. Chromosome counts and predominance of bivalents in diakinesis and metaphase I disclosed that maca is a disomic octoploid of 2n=8x=64 chromosomes. Field and growth chamber observations and morphological uniformity of the plants within accessions indicate that maca relies mainly on self-fertilization for its reproduction.
Chapter
Higher plants have evolved various ways of accumulating large amounts of assimilates, including both primary and secondary metabolites (micro- and macromolecules), in a single organ/location. Specialized cells and tissues such as trichomes, nectaries, and resin canals synthesize compounds which may protect the plants against pathogens and pests. A major mode of assimilate accumulation is the formation of seeds and fruits, which in most cases are the end result of sexual reproduction, although seeds can also originate through apomixis and fruits through treatment with growth regulators. A substantial amount of information is now available on the developmental and biochemical aspects of such organs,1 including the accumulation of starch,2 proteins,3 and a wide diversity of phytochemicals.4 In contrast, much less is known about the phytochemistry, biochemistry, and development of underground storage organs. This is surprising, considering that storage roots and tubers such as cassava, sweet potato, and potato constitute important staples for people in developing as well as developed countries in both tropical and temperate areas. This review summarizes some selected aspects of the phytochemistry, biochemistry, and ethnobotany of underground plant storage organs with emphasis on roots and tubers.
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Tropaeolum tuberosum, aiiu. and Lepidium meyenii. maca, are cultivated in the Andes mountains for their edible underground parts. Cultural and medicinal associa-tions between the plants are supported by their similarity in secondary chemistry, and by the pharmacological properties of the isothiocyanates released upon hydrolysis of the glucosinolates present. T. tuberosum has been reported to contain p-methoxybenzyl glu-cosinolate; L. meyenii is reported here to contain benzyl and p-methoxybenzyl glucosino-lates. The likelihood that human selection for specific flavor and medicinal properties has altered the secondary chemistry of, at least, the onu raises questions concerned with both human taste perception and plant domestication.