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GF Gonzales, C Gonez and A Villena

The present study aimed to determine adrenopause or reduction of serum adrenal androgens with age at high altitude and at sea level. It was a cross-sectional study performed in 210 women resident at high altitude (4340 m) and 123 women living in Lima (150 m), aged 20-70 years. Fasting early morning blood samples were obtained. Serum dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulphate (DHEAS), androstenedione, testosterone and estradiol were measured by radioimmunoassay. Serum testosterone concentrations were greater in women living at high altitude than in those resident at sea level. Serum concentrations of DHEA, DHEAS and androstenedione were lower in women living at high altitude than in those living at sea level. The DHEAS/DHEA ratio was significantly greater, and the androstenedione/testosterone ratio was lower in samples from women living at high altitude. Among women older than 50 years of age, a greater decline in serum concentrations of DHEA was observed in those living at high altitude than in those living at sea level. Among women 60-70 years of age, serum concentrations of DHEA at high altitude were 46.9% of those in women of the same age living at sea level. Decay of DHEAS at sea level and at high altitude occurred from the age of 40 years. The decline was faster at high altitude than at sea level, and in women aged 60-70 years serum values of DHEAS at high altitude were 56% of those at sea level. In the same age group, serum concentrations of androstenedione among those native to high altitudes were 27.34% of the value at sea level. At sea level, serum testosterone concentrations did not change with age from 20 to 70 years. In women aged 20-39 years and 50-59 years, serum testosterone concentrations were greater at high altitude than at sea level (P<0.05). In those aged 60-70 years, the concentrations were similar in those living at sea level and at high altitude. At sea level and at high altitude, the serum testosterone/estradiol ratio increased with age (P<0.0034 and P<0.0001 respectively). This ratio increased at an earlier age among those living at high altitude (40-49 years) than among those living at sea level (50-59 years). Multivariate analysis showed that altitude (P<0.0001) and greater chronological age (P<0.001) were associated with lower serum DHEAS concentrations. DHEAS was related to chronological age (P<0.0001). Low serum androstenedione concentrations were related to living at high altitude at birth and greater chronological age (P<0.0001). In conclusion, adrenopause is attained earlier and is of greater magnitude at high altitude than at sea level.

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GF Gonzales, M Gasco, A Cordova, A Chung, J Rubio and L Villegas

Lepidium meyenii (Maca) is a Peruvian hypocotyl that grows exclusively between 4000 and 4500 m in the central Andes. Maca is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed fertility-enhancing properties.The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that Maca can prevent high altitude-induced testicular disturbances. Adult male rats were exposed for 21 days to an altitude of 4340 m and treated with vehicle or aqueous extract of Maca (666.6 mg/day). The lengths of the stages of the seminiferous epithelium and epididymal sperm counts were obtained at 0, 7, 14 and 21 days of exposure. The stages of the seminiferous tubules were assessed by transillumination. A dose-response study was also performed at sea level to determine the effect of Maca given to male rats at doses of 0, 6.6, 66.6 and 666.6 mg/day for 7 days on body weight, seminiferous tubule stages and epididymal sperm count. The length of stage VIII and the epididymal sperm count were increased in a dose-dependent manner in Maca-treated rats but treatment reduced the length of stage I. At the highest dose, sperm count increased 1.58 times, the length of stage VIII increased 2.4 times and the length of stage I was reduced 0.48 times compared with the value at dose 0. Exposure to high altitude resulted in a reduction in epididymal sperm count after 7 days and lower values were maintained up to 21 days. Altitude reduced spermiation (stage VIII) to half and the onset of spermatogenesis (stages IX-XI) to a quarter on days 7 and 14 but treatment with Maca (666.6 mg/day) prevented these changes. Data on transillumination and epididymal sperm count in the Maca-treated group exposed to high altitude were similar to those obtained at sea level. Maca increased the sperm count on day 21 of exposure to high altitude to values similar (1095.25 +/- 20.41x10(6) sperm, means +/- S.E.M.) to those obtained in the Maca-treated group at sea level (1132.30 +/- 172.95x10(6) sperm). Furthermore, in the Maca-treated group exposed for 21 days to high altitude, epididymal sperm count was higher than in the non-treated group at sea level (690.49 +/- 43.67x10(6) sperm). In conclusion, treatment of rats with Maca at high altitude prevented high altitude-induced spermatogenic disruption.

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GF Gonzales, A Cordova, K Vega, A Chung, A Villena and C Gonez

Lepidium meyenii (Maca) is a Peruvian hypocotyl that grows exclusively between 4000 and 4500 m in the central Andes. Maca is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed aphrodisiac and/or fertility-enhancing properties. This study was a 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel trial in which active treatment with different doses of Maca Gelatinizada was compared with a placebo. The study aimed to test the hypothesis that Maca has no effect on serum reproductive hormone levels in apparently healthy men when administered in doses used for aphrodisiac and/or fertility-enhancing properties. Men aged between 21 and 56 Years received 1500 mg or 3000 mg Maca. Serum levels of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, prolactin, 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone, testosterone and 17-beta estradiol were measured before and at 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks of treatment with placebo or Maca (1.5 g or 3.0 g per day). Data showed that compared with placebo Maca had no effect on any of the hormones studied nor did the hormones show any changes over time. Multiple regression analysis showed that serum testosterone levels were not affected by treatment with Maca at any of the times studied (P, not significant). In conclusion, treatment with Maca does not affect serum reproductive hormone levels.