The effects of swimming exercise and supraphysiological doses of nandrolone decanoate on the testis in adult male rats: a transmission electron microscope study

Folia Morphol (Warsz). 2010 Aug;69(3):138-46.


Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are used in high doses by athletes to improve athletic ability, physical appearance, and muscle mass. Unfortunately, the abuse of these agents has significantly increased. It has been established that exercise and high doses of AAS may influence the hypothalamic-pituitary gonadal (H-P-G) axis, which can in turn affect the ultrastructure of the testes. However, the effect of the combination of exercise and high doses of AAS on the ultrastructure of the testes is not known. This study was undertaken in order to examine the combination effects of swimming exercise and supraphysiological doses of nandrolone decanoate on the ultrastructural changes in rat testes. Five groups of male Wistar strain albino rats were treated as follows for 8 weeks: solvent of nandrolone decanoate (peanut oil) as a vehicle (sham); nandrolone decanoate (ND) (10 mg/kg/week) - ND; exercise (1 h/day, 5 days a week) - exercise; ND (10 mg/kg/week) and exercise (1 h/day, 5 days a week) - ND-EX; and sedentary control without any injection or exercise - control. Ultrastructural changes in the rat testes were characterised by transmission electron microscopy. The number and size of Leydig cells were considerably decreased in the interstitial space in the experimental rats. The increased thickness and irregular wavy multilaminar appearance of basement membrane in the treated animals, especially in the ND-EX group, are associated with well developed myoid cells. Cytoplasm vacuolisation, vesicular-like crista of the mitochondria, numerous lipid droplets, and lysosome and phagolysosome in Sertoli cells were significantly observed in the experimental groups. Several apoptotic germ cells were considerably observed in the experimental rats (p ≤ 0.05). Exercise training seems to increase the extent of ultrastructural changes caused by supraphysiological doses of ND in rats, which in turn may affect fertility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / ultrastructure
  • Leydig Cells / drug effects
  • Leydig Cells / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Models, Animal
  • Nandrolone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Nandrolone / pharmacology
  • Nandrolone Decanoate
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sertoli Cells / drug effects
  • Sertoli Cells / ultrastructure
  • Swimming / physiology*
  • Testis / drug effects*
  • Testis / ultrastructure*


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Nandrolone
  • Nandrolone Decanoate