Dose-dependent hepatic response to subchronic administration of nandrolone decanoate

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 May;40(5):842-7. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181666f1c.


Background: Androgenic anabolic steroids (AAS) are synthetic hormone derivatives of testosterone and are mainly used to enhance athletic performance and muscle mass, but medical applications also have been described. Short- and long-term side effects have been demonstrated in many organs, but the liver adverse effects are the most common and serious ones associated with AAS use. However, these effects have been supported by few clinical and experimental studies.

Objective: To evaluate the hepatic function and structure after 5 wk of nandrolone decanoate administration at three different doses.

Methods: Twenty-seven adult male Wistar rats were randomly assigned to the following groups: control, clinical, intermediate, and suprapharmacological doses of nandrolone decanoate during 5 wk.

Results: The biochemical studies showed that nandrolone decanoate administration leads to a dose-dependent increase in serum levels of the aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (P < 0.05), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (P < 0.01), and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) (P < 0.001), as well as a significant decrease in total proteins (P < 0.01), bilirubin (P < 0.05), total cholesterol and fractions (P < 0.05), and triglycerides (P < 0.05). Although a significant statistical difference was found for AST, ALT, and ALP when compared with the control group, their values remained within the normal range. The number of Kupffer cells was increased in the liver parenchyma (P < 0.05), and the content of collagen was increased in the central lobular vein wall, in the hepatic parenchyma, and in the portal space (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: These results suggest that subchronic treatment with nandrolone decanoate, mainly administered at higher-than-clinical doses, are potentially deleterious to the liver, leading to incipient fibrosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anabolic Agents / toxicity*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / chemically induced*
  • Male
  • Nandrolone / administration & dosage
  • Nandrolone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Nandrolone / toxicity
  • Nandrolone Decanoate
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Nandrolone
  • Nandrolone Decanoate