The decanoate esters of nandrolone, testosterone, and trenbolone induce steroid specific memory impairment and somatic effects in the male rat

Horm Behav. 2024 May:161:105501. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2024.105501. Epub 2024 Feb 17.


Long-term use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) in supratherapeutic doses is associated with severe adverse effects, including physical, mental, and behavioral alterations. When used for recreational purposes several AAS are often combined, and in scientific studies of the physiological impact of AAS either a single compound or a cocktail of several steroids is often used. Because of this, steroid-specific effects have been difficult to define and are not fully elucidated. The present study used male Wistar rats to evaluate potential somatic and behavioral effects of three different AAS; the decanoate esters of nandrolone, testosterone, and trenbolone. The rats were exposed to 15 mg/kg of nandrolone decanoate, testosterone decanoate, or trenbolone decanoate every third day for 24 days. Body weight gain and organ weights (thymus, liver, kidney, testis, and heart) were measured together with the corticosterone plasma levels. Behavioral effects were studied in the novel object recognition-test (NOR-test) and the multivariate concentric square field-test (MCSF-test). The results conclude that nandrolone decanoate, but neither testosterone decanoate nor trenbolone decanoate, caused impaired recognition memory in the NOR-test, indicating an altered cognitive function. The behavioral profile and stress hormone level of the rats were not affected by the AAS treatments. Furthermore, the study revealed diverse AAS-induced somatic effects i.e., reduced body weight development and changes in organ weights. Of the three AAS included in the study, nandrolone decanoate was identified to cause the most prominent impact on the male rat, as it affected body weight development, the weights of multiple organs, and caused an impaired memory function.

Keywords: Anabolic androgenic steroids; Memory; Multivariate concentric square field; Nandrolone decanoate; Novel object recognition; Rat; Testosterone decanoate; Trenbolone decanoate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Anabolic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders* / chemically induced
  • Nandrolone Decanoate / pharmacology
  • Nandrolone* / analogs & derivatives
  • Nandrolone* / pharmacology
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar*
  • Recognition, Psychology / drug effects
  • Testosterone* / analogs & derivatives
  • Testosterone* / blood
  • Trenbolone Acetate / pharmacology


  • Testosterone
  • Nandrolone
  • Anabolic Agents
  • Trenbolone Acetate
  • Nandrolone Decanoate
  • Corticosterone