Tissue selectivity and potential clinical applications of trenbolone (17beta-hydroxyestra-4,9,11-trien-3-one): A potent anabolic steroid with reduced androgenic and estrogenic activity

Steroids. 2010 Jun;75(6):377-89. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2010.01.019. Epub 2010 Feb 4.


Recently, the development of selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) has been suggested as a means of combating the deleterious catabolic effects of hypogonadism, especially in skeletal muscle and bone, without inducing the undesirable androgenic effects (e.g., prostate enlargement and polycythemia) associated with testosterone administration. 17beta-Hydroxyestra-4,9,11-trien-3-one (trenbolone; 17beta-TBOH), a synthetic analog of testosterone, may be capable of inducing SARM-like effects as it binds to androgen receptors (ARs) with approximately three times the affinity of testosterone and has been shown to augment skeletal muscle mass and bone growth and reduce adiposity in a variety of mammalian species. In addition to its direct actions through ARs, 17beta-TBOH may also exert anabolic effects by altering the action of endogenous growth factors or inhibiting the action of glucocorticoids. Compared to testosterone, 17beta-TBOH appears to induce less growth in androgen-sensitive organs which highly express the 5alpha reductase enzyme (e.g., prostate tissue and accessory sex organs). The reduced androgenic effects result from the fact that 17beta-TBOH is metabolized to less potent androgens in vivo; while testosterone undergoes tissue-specific biotransformation to more potent steroids, dihydrotestosterone and 17beta-estradiol, via the 5alpha-reductase and aromatase enzymes, respectively. Thus the metabolism of 17beta-TBOH provides a basis for future research evaluating its safety and efficacy as a means of combating muscle and bone wasting conditions, obesity, and/or androgen insensitivity syndromes in humans, similar to that of other SARMs which are currently in development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 3-Oxo-5-alpha-Steroid 4-Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Anabolic Agents / chemistry
  • Anabolic Agents / metabolism*
  • Anabolic Agents / pharmacology
  • Anabolic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Androgens / chemistry
  • Androgens / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Aromatase / metabolism
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects
  • Bone and Bones / physiology
  • Estrogens / chemistry
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / drug therapy
  • Molecular Structure
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Trenbolone Acetate / chemistry
  • Trenbolone Acetate / metabolism*
  • Trenbolone Acetate / pharmacology
  • Trenbolone Acetate / therapeutic use


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Aromatase
  • 3-Oxo-5-alpha-Steroid 4-Dehydrogenase
  • Trenbolone Acetate