Oxandrolone treatment in adults with severe thermal injury

Pharmacotherapy. 2009 Feb;29(2):213-26. doi: 10.1592/phco.29.2.213.


Severe thermal injury is associated with hypermetabolism and hypercatabolism, leading to skeletal muscle breakdown, lean body mass loss, weight loss, and negative nitrogen balance. Muscle protein catabolism in patients with severe thermal injury is the result of stress-induced increased release of cytokines and counterregulatory hormones. Coupled with decreased serum anabolic hormone concentrations such as testosterone and growth hormone along with the presence of insulin resistance, anabolism in patients with severe thermal injury is inefficient or impossible during the acute postburn period. This causes difficulty in restoring lean body mass and regaining lost body weight, as well as poor healing of the burn wound and delayed patient recovery. Oxandrolone, a synthetic derivative of testosterone, has been used in adult patients with severe thermal injury to enhance lean body mass accretion, restore body weight, and accelerate wound healing. In clinical studies, oxandrolone 10 mg orally twice/day improved wound healing, restored lean body mass, and accelerated body weight gain. During the rehabilitation period, oxandrolone therapy with adequate nutrition and exercise improved lean body mass, increased muscle strength, and restored body weight. However, most data on oxandrolone use in adult patients with severe thermal injury are derived from single-center studies, many of which enrolled a relatively small number of subjects and some of which had a poor design. Multicenter, prospective, randomized studies are needed to better define the optimal oxandrolone dosage and to confirm the efficacy and safety of this drug in adult patients with severe thermal injury.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anabolic Agents / adverse effects
  • Anabolic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Burns / drug therapy*
  • Burns / physiopathology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Support / methods
  • Oxandrolone / adverse effects
  • Oxandrolone / pharmacology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Wound Healing / drug effects


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Oxandrolone