Introduction: A variety of clinical conditions are complicated by loss of weight and skeletal muscle which may contribute to morbidity and mortality. Anabolic androgenic steroids have been demonstrated to increase fat-free mass, muscle mass and strength in healthy men and women without major adverse events and therefore could be beneficial in these conditions.
Areas covered: This review provides an overview of clinical trials with anabolic androgenic steroids in the treatment of chronic diseases including HIV-wasting, chronic renal failure, chronic obstructive lung disease, muscular disease, alcoholic liver disease, burn injuries and post operative recovery. Relevant studies were identified in PubMed (years 1950 - 2010), bibliographies of the identified studies and the Cochrane database.
Expert opinion: Although the beneficial effects of AAS in chronic disorders are promising, clinically relevant endpoints such as quality of life, improved physical functioning and survival were mainly missing or not significant, except for burn injuries. Therefore, more studies are needed to confirm their long term safety and efficacy.