An extensive literature has documented adverse effects on mental health in anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) abusers. Depression seems a common adverse reaction in AAS abusers. Recently it has been reported that in a rat model of AAS abuse stanozolol induces behavioural and biochemical changes related to the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder. In the present study, we used the model of AAS abuse to examine possible changes in the monoaminergic system, a neurobiological substrate of depression, in different brain areas of stanozolol-treated animals. Wistar rats received repeated injections of stanozolol (5mg/kg, s.c.), or vehicle (propylene glycol, 1ml/kg) once daily for 4weeks. Twenty-four hours after last injection, changes of dopamine (DA) and relative metabolite levels, homovanilic acid (HVA) and 3,4-dihydroxy phenylacetic acid (DOPAC), serotonin (5-HT) and its metabolite levels, 5-hydroxy indolacetic acid (5-HIAA), and noradrenaline (NA) amount were investigated in prefrontal cortex (PFC), nucleus accumbens (NAC), striatum (STR) and hippocampus (HIPP). The analysis of data showed that after chronic stanozolol, DA levels were increased in the HIPP and decreased in the PFC. No significant changes were observed in the STR or in the NAC. 5-HT and 5-HIAA levels were decreased in all brain areas investigated after stanozolol exposure; however, the 5-HIAA/5-HT ratio was not altered. Taken together, our data indicate that chronic use of stanozolol significantly affects brain monoamines leading to neurochemical modifications possibly involved in depression and stress-related states.
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