Long-term Effects of Pubertal Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Exposure on Reproductive and Aggressive Behaviors in Male Rats

Horm Behav. 2004 Aug;46(2):193-203. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2004.03.012.


The current study examined acute and long-term effects of anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) exposure during puberty on copulation, vocalizations, scent marking, and intermale aggression, both with and without tail pinch, in intact male rats. Animals received 5 mg/kg of testosterone, nandrolone, stanozolol, or vehicle, beginning at puberty. After 5 weeks, behavior tests were performed while continuing AAS injections. AAS treatment was then discontinued. Behaviors were tested during 3-5 weeks, 9-11 weeks, and 15-17 weeks of withdrawal. During AAS administration, stanozolol males showed significant reductions in all behaviors compared with controls, except aggression with tail pinch. Nandrolone treatment significantly reduced vocalizations and scent marking, and testosterone had no significant effect on behavior. During withdrawal, behaviors in stanozolol males recovered to control levels at variable rates: aggression at 4 weeks; mounts, vocalizations, and scent marking at 9 weeks; and ejaculations at 15 weeks of withdrawal. Stanozolol males showed significantly higher levels of tail pinch-induced aggression during every withdrawal test. Nandrolone-treated males scent-marked at control levels by 9 weeks withdrawal but displayed significantly fewer vocalizations and significantly more tail pinch-induced aggression than controls for the entire study. Testosterone-treated males scent-marked significantly below controls at 3 weeks withdrawal and showed significantly more tail pinch-induced aggression at 5 weeks withdrawal. All three AAS significantly increased tail pinch-induced aggression compared with corresponding nontail pinch tests, even at study endpoint. These results suggest that alterations in androgen-dependent behaviors by pubertal AAS exposure can persist long after drug exposure, and some effects may even be permanent.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / drug effects
  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Anabolic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Androgens / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Copulation / drug effects
  • Copulation / physiology*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Male
  • Nandrolone / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Sexual Maturation / drug effects*
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology*
  • Stanozolol / pharmacology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Testosterone / physiology
  • Vocalization, Animal / drug effects
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Androgens
  • Testosterone
  • Stanozolol
  • Nandrolone