The effect of sub-chronic nandrolone decanoate treatment on dopaminergic and serotonergic neuronal systems in the brains of rats

Brain Res. 2005 May 17;1044(1):67-75. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2005.02.071. Epub 2005 Apr 1.


Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AASs) are widely abused by adolescents, although persistent AAS use can cause several adverse physical and mental effects, including drug dependence. The first aim of the present study was to study the action of nandrolone decanoate on dopaminergic and serotonergic activities in the brains of rats. In order to evaluate the anabolic or toxic effects of the dosing regimens used, selected peripheral effects were monitored as well. Male Wistar rats were treated for 2 weeks. Injections containing nandrolone (5 and 20 mg/kg, i.m.) or vehicle were given once daily, 5 days a week. The levels of dopamine (DA), 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) and their metabolites were assayed from dissected brain regions 3 days after the last injection. Blood was collected for chemical assays before, after 1 week treatment and at decapitation. Both doses of nandrolone significantly increased the levels of 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), a metabolite of DA in the cerebral cortex, and the higher dose of nandrolone increased the concentrations of 5-HT in the cerebral cortex compared with the vehicle. In addition, after nandrolone treatment, the levels of hemoglobin and erythrocytes increased, and reticulocyte levels decreased. The results suggest that nandrolone at supraphysiological doses, high enough to induce erythropoiesis, induces changes in the dopaminergic and serotonergic neuronal system in the brains of rats. These phenomena may account to some of the observed central stimulatory properties that have been reported following AAS abuse.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain Chemistry / drug effects
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Homovanillic Acid / metabolism
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Male
  • Nandrolone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Nandrolone / blood
  • Nandrolone / pharmacology*
  • Nandrolone Decanoate
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reticulocytes / metabolism
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Time Factors


  • Hemoglobins
  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid
  • Serotonin
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid
  • Nandrolone
  • Creatinine
  • Nandrolone Decanoate
  • Dopamine
  • Homovanillic Acid