The Uses of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids Among Athletes; Its Positive and Negative Aspects- A Literature Review

J Multidiscip Healthc. 2023 Dec 29:16:4293-4305. doi: 10.2147/JMDH.S439384. eCollection 2023.


The use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) for strength training and muscle building is a widespread practice among athletes and young individuals. Athletes and bodybuilders are using these substances for various purposes, such as enhancing muscle mass, strengthening their bodies, and enhancing their performances. AAS exert a wide range of physiological effects that result in the activation of central signaling, resulting in adverse effects. Moreover, excessive use of AAS which can be categorized as AAS abuse; is linked to biological and psychological pathologies, which can lead to mortality. Complications arising from steroid abuse involve both cellular and physiological complications. Cellular complications arise when activation of signaling proteins like mTOR, Akt, etc. leads to alteration in protein synthesis pathways, cell cycle, oxidative stress, and apoptosis, contributing to damage at the cellular level. Physiological complications are evident with cardiovascular pathologies, including an altered lipid profile, cardiac hypertrophy, hypogonadism after discontinuation of AAS, and modulation of GABA receptors in the brain, all contributed by the androgen receptor signaling. Clinical complications budding from these altered physiological processes lead to clinical effects like testicular dysfunction, acne, gynecomastia, and neuropsychiatric disorders. Despite potential therapeutic benefits, AAS use is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) due to concerns over adverse health effects. This review highlights the molecular mechanisms, physiological processes, and clinical complications arising from the excessive use of AAS among athletes.

Keywords: AKT pathway; androgenic steroids; mTOR pathway; steroids abuse.

Publication types

  • Review