Reduced arterial elasticity after anabolic-androgenic steroid use in young adult males and mice

Sci Rep. 2022 Jun 11;12(1):9707. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-14065-5.


High-doses of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) is efficient for building muscle mass, but pose a risk of cardiovascular side effects. Little is known of the effect of AAS on vasculature, but previous findings suggest unfavorable alterations in vessel walls and vasoreactivity. Here, long-term effect of AAS on vascular function and morphology were examined in male weightlifters, and in a mimicking animal model. Arterial elasticity and morphology were tested with ultrasound, pulse wave velocity (PWV) and carotid intima media thickness (cIMT) in 56 current male AAS users, and 67 non-exposed weightlifting controls (WLC). Female mice were treated with testosterone for 14 days and echocardiography were applied to evaluate vascular function and morphology. Male AAS users had higher PWV (p = 0.044), reduced carotid artery compliance (p = 0.0005), and increased cIMT (p = 0.041) compared to WLC. Similar functional changes were found in the ascending aorta of mice after 7- (p = 0.043) and 14 days (p = 0.001) of testosterone treatment. This animal model can be used to map molecular mechanisms responsible for complications related to AAS misuse. Considering the age-independent stiffening of major arteries and the predictive power of an increase in PWV and cIMT, the long-term users of AAS are at increased risk of severe cardiovascular events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness*
  • Elasticity
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Pulse Wave Analysis*
  • Testosterone


  • Testosterone