Anabolic androgenic steroid-induced liver injury: An update

World J Gastroenterol. 2022 Jul 14;28(26):3071-3080. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v28.i26.3071.


Anabolic androgenic steroids (AASs) are a group of molecules including endogenous testosterone and synthetic derivatives that have both androgenic and anabolic effects. These properties make them therapeutically beneficial in medical conditions such as hypogonadism. However, they are commonly bought illegally and misused for their anabolic, skeletal muscle building, and performance-enhancing effects. Supraphysiologic and long-term use of AASs affects all organs, leading to cardiovascular, neurological, endocrine, gastrointestinal, renal, and hematologic disorders. Hepatotoxicity is one of the major concerns regarding AASs treatment and abuse. Testosterone and its derivatives have been most often shown to induce a specific form of cholestasis, peliosis hepatis, and hepatic benign and malignant tumors. It is currently believed that mechanisms of pathogenesis of these disorders include disturbance of antioxidative factors, upregulation of bile acid synthesis, and induction of hepatocyte hyperplasia. Most toxicity cases are treated with supportive measures and liver function normalizes with discontinuation of AAS. However, some long-term consequences are irreversible. AAS-induced liver injury should be taken in consideration in patients with liver disorders, especially with the increasing unintentional ingestion of supplements containing AAS. In this paper, we review the most current knowledge about AAS-associated adverse effects on the liver, and their clinical presentations, prevalence, and pathophysiological mechanisms.

Keywords: Androgens; Chemical and drug induced liver injury; Cholestasis; Fibrosis; Liver; Steroids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Androgens / adverse effects
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury, Chronic*
  • Humans
  • Testosterone
  • Testosterone Congeners / adverse effects


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Androgens
  • Testosterone Congeners
  • Testosterone