Background: The use of anabolic steroids is forbidden for food producing animals in the EU. Owing to the advantages of anabolics for production profitability, illegal application is appealing. Anabolics are known to influence gene expression of several tissues. We focused on the liver because of its important role in nutrient and hormone metabolism. The aim of the present study was to find differentially regulated metabolic pathways, which might be used as treatment biomarkers.
Material and methods: A total of 18 Nguni heifers were allocated equally to a control group and a treatment group and were implanted with Revalor H. Expression of 34 target genes was measured using reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR).
Results: Upregulation of androgen receptor and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and downregulation of IGF-2, insulin-like growth factor binding protein 2, steroid hormone binding globulin, insulin receptor α, insulin receptor β, tyrosine aminotransferase, 17β-hydroxy steroid dehydrogenase 2,3-hydroxy-methylglutaryl-coenzym-A-synthase, cathepsin B, hepatocyte growth factor, steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, apolipoprotein 2 and tumor necrosis factor α was demonstrated.
Conclusion: Several biochemical pathways showed different regulations on mRNA level under the influence of trenbolone acetate plus estradiol. The inhibition of nutrient metabolism and protein breakdown seems to support growth processes. IGF-1 plays an important role in growth and development and thus the upregulation of IGF-1 could be responsible for the stimulation of growth in treated animals. The upregulation of IGF-1 could also be revealed as a possible risk factor for the generation of artherosclerotic plaques, which are known as long-term side effects following the use of anabolic steroids. Principal components analysis of RT-qPCR results showed that both groups arrange together and can be clearly separated. Therefore, these might be used as possible biomarkers in bovine liver.