Aims: Malnutrition with hypoalbuminemia is an independent predictor of mortality in end-stage renal disease patients. Anabolic steroids reduce protein catabolism and therefore may improve nutritional parameters. This study was undertaken to determine the effects of the anabolic steroid nandrolone decanoate on the nutritional status of hemodialysis patients. Secondary endpoints were to examine the effects of androgen therapy on hematocrit and erythropoietin (EPO) dose.
Patients and methods: Medical records of chronic hemodialysis patients who received nandrolone decanoate for greater than 30 days were reviewed. Data collected included: demographics, dose, frequency, duration of treatment and cumulative dose of nandrolone. Baseline albumin, transferrin, dry weight, phosphorus, creatinine, hematocrit and erythropoietin dose were obtained for comparison with values after treatment.
Results: Of the 9 patients evaluated (mean +/- SD: age 55+/-28 years, 4/9 male), 2 patients received nandrolone doses of 25 mg intramuscularly (i.m.) every week, while the remaining 7 patients received 100 mg i.m. every 2 weeks. The mean +/- SD duration of treatment was 96+/-43 days, with a mean +/- SD cumulative dose of 656+/-371 mg. The mean +/- SD baseline albumin was 2.9+/-0.6 mg/dl which increased to 3.3+/-0.4 mg/dl after treatment (p = 0.045). Dry weight increased from a mean +/- SD of 64.4+/-11.7 kg to 66.0+/-10.9 kg after nandrolone therapy (p = 0.028). Mean +/- SD hematocrit at baseline was 28.2+/-4.5% and increased to 33.2+/-5.1% (p = 0.033). The dose of EPO was reduced in 4 patients (44%) during nandrolone therapy.
Conclusions: Nandrolone significantly improved markers of nutritional status in our hemodialysis patients. This therapy may also enhance the hematopoietic effects of EPO.