Structural characteristics of anabolic androgenic steroids contributing to binding to the androgen receptor and to their anabolic and androgenic activities. Applied modifications in the steroidal structure

Steroids. 2009 Feb;74(2):172-97. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2008.10.016. Epub 2008 Nov 5.


Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) are synthetic derivatives of testosterone introduced for therapeutic purposes providing enhanced anabolic potency with reduced androgenic effects. Androgens mediate their action through their binding to the androgen receptor (AR) which is mainly expressed in androgen target tissues, such as the prostate, skeletal muscle, liver and central nervous system. This paper reviews some of the wide spectrum of testosterone and synthetic AAS structure modifications related to the intended enhancement in anabolic activity. The structural features of steroids necessary for effective binding to the AR and those which contribute to the stipulation of the androgenic and anabolic activities are also presented.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / chemistry*
  • Anabolic Agents / metabolism*
  • Androgens / chemistry*
  • Androgens / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*
  • Steroids / chemistry*
  • Steroids / metabolism*


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Androgens
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Steroids