The effects of oxandrolone and exercise on muscle mass and function in children with severe burns

Pediatrics. 2007 Jan;119(1):e109-16. doi: 10.1542/peds.2006-1548. Epub 2006 Nov 27.


Objectives: Severe burns are associated with a significant loss of muscle and strength. Studies have reported that oxandrolone improves lean body mass in muscle-wasting conditions. Also shown previously in burned children is that an exercise program increases lean body mass and muscle strength. We hypothesized that oxandrolone, in combination with exercise, would increase lean body mass and muscle strength in severely burned children more than oxandrolone alone or exercise alone.

Methods and patients: Fifty-one burned children (> or = 40% total body surface area burned) were randomly assigned to receive oxandrolone alone (0.1 mg/kg per day orally; n = 9), oxandrolone and exercise (n = 14), placebo and no exercise (n = 11), or placebo and exercise (n = 17). Administration of oxandrolone was started at discharge and continued until 1 year after burn. The 12-week exercise training program was started 6 months after burn. Serum hormones, lean body mass, muscle strength, and peak cardiopulmonary capacity were assessed at 6 (baseline) and 9 months after burn. Data were analyzed using a 1-way analysis of variance, and significance was set at P < .05.

Results: The mean percentage of change or increase in weight and lean body mass in the oxandrolone and exercise group was significant compared with placebo and exercise, as well as with the oxandrolone alone group or placebo and no exercise group. Furthermore, lean body mass was significantly improved in the oxandrolone and exercise, oxandrolone alone, and placebo and exercise group compared with the group only receiving placebo. Muscle strength significantly increased in oxandrolone and exercise, placebo and exercise, and the oxandrolone alone group when compared with the placebo and no exercise group. The peak cardiopulmonary capacity was significantly higher in both exercise groups. Insulin-like growth factor 1 was significantly increased in the oxandrolone alone group compared with placebo and exercise and placebo and no exercise. Both exercise groups showed significant changes in insulin-like binding-protein-3 when compared with groups without exercise.

Conclusions: Oxandrolone, in combination with exercise, is beneficial in severely burned children, thus improving their rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anabolic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Burns / physiopathology
  • Burns / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Muscle Strength / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Oxandrolone / therapeutic use*
  • Oxygen Consumption


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Oxandrolone