Subchronic steroid administration induces long lasting changes in neurochemical and behavioral response to cocaine in rats

Steroids. 2011 Nov;76(12):1310-6. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2011.06.011. Epub 2011 Jul 2.


The abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids (AASs), such as nandrolone, is not only a problem in the world of sports but is associated with the polydrug use of non-athletes. Among other adverse effects, AAS abuse has been associated with long term or even persistent psychiatric problems. We have previously found that nandrolone decanoate treatment could produce prolonged changes in rats' brain reward circuits associated to drug dependence. The aim in this study was to evaluate whether AAS-induced neurochemical and behavioral changes are reversible. The increases in extracellular dopamine (DA) and serotonin (5-HT) concentration, as well as stereotyped behavior and locomotor activity (LMA) evoked by cocaine were attenuated by pretreatment with nandrolone. The recovery period, which was needed for the DA system to return back to the basic level, was fairly long compared to the dosing period of the steroid. In the 5-HT system, the time that system needed to return back to the basal level, was even longer than in the DA system. The attenuation was still seen though there were no detectable traces of nandrolone in the blood samples. Given that accumbal outflow of DA and 5-HT, as well as LMA and stereotyped behavior are all related to reward of stimulant drugs, this study suggests that nandrolone decanoate has significant, long-lasting but reversible effects on the rewarding properties of cocaine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anabolic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • Cocaine / administration & dosage
  • Cocaine / adverse effects
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / metabolism*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microdialysis
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Nandrolone / administration & dosage
  • Nandrolone / adverse effects*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reward*
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Stereotyped Behavior / drug effects


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Serotonin
  • Nandrolone
  • Cocaine
  • Dopamine