Oxandrolone enhances hepatic ketogenesis in adult men

J Investig Med. 2008 Oct;56(7):920-4. doi: 10.2310/JIM.0b013e318189153d.


Background: Immediate administration of oxandrolone markedly increases hepatic lipase activity and reduces levels of plasma high-density lipoprotein.

Rationale for the study: We postulated that oxandrolone should increase hepatic lipase and that the nonesterified fatty acids generated would enhance hepatic ketogenesis during an extended fat tolerance test.

Main results: Eighteen men participated in the study using short-term administration of oxandrolone (10 mg/d) over a week. Subjects had evaluation of hepatic ketogenesis at baseline and after 7 days of administration of oxandrolone. Ketogenesis was assessed by measuring plasma levels of 3-hydroxybutyrate during a fat tolerance test. Oxandrolone increased fasting levels of 3-hydroxybutyrate by 70%, and increased the area under the curve during an FFT by 53% above pretreatment levels without affecting the areas under the curve for nonesterified fatty acids, glycerol, or triglycerides. Fasting 3-hydroxybutyrate levels correlated with nonesterified fatty acids and with triglycerides; however, there were no significant correlations with any other parameter.

Conclusions: This study shows that short-term administration of oxandrolone results in marked increases in hepatic ketogenesis. This finding is consistent with an increased influx of fatty acids into the liver secondary to lipoprotein lipolysis by increased hepatic lipase. However, the possibility cannot be ruled out that oxandrolone acts directly in the liver to stimulate fatty acid oxidation. Therefore, the observation of increased ketogenesis will require further studies to determine the molecular basis of the response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid / blood
  • Anabolic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anabolic Agents / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ketones / metabolism*
  • Lipase / metabolism
  • Lipolysis / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxandrolone / administration & dosage
  • Oxandrolone / pharmacology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Fatty Acids
  • Ketones
  • Oxandrolone
  • Lipase
  • hepatic lipase, human
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid