Nandrolone decanoate administration elevates hippocampal prodynorphin mRNA expression and impairs Morris water maze performance in male rats

Neurosci Lett. 2009 Dec 31;467(3):189-93. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.09.041. Epub 2009 Sep 26.


The misuse of anabolic androgenic steroids has in several reports been associated with effects resulting in altered behavior. This study used the Morris water maze task to investigate the effect of high doses of the anabolic androgenic steroid nandrolone on spatial learning and memory in male rats. During the experiment, we observed a significantly impaired Morris water maze performance in the nandrolone-treated rats compared with controls. The hippocampus, a brain region associated with cognitive function, was analyzed for mRNA expression of prodynorphin, the precursor of dynorphinergic peptides. The results indicated that the transcription levels of prodynorphin were significantly elevated in the animals treated with nandrolone compared with controls. Thus, the findings suggest that administration of nandrolone to male rats impairs memory function, possibly via dynorphinergic actions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Enkephalins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Learning Disabilities / chemically induced*
  • Learning Disabilities / genetics
  • Learning Disabilities / metabolism
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Nandrolone / toxicity*
  • Protein Precursors / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / drug effects*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Transcriptional Activation / drug effects
  • Transcriptional Activation / genetics


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Enkephalins
  • Protein Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Nandrolone
  • preproenkephalin