Safety and efficacy of nandrolone decanoate for treatment of wasting in patients with HIV infection

AIDS. 1996 Jun;10(7):745-52. doi: 10.1097/00002030-199606001-00008.


Objective: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of the anabolic steroid, nandrolone decanoate (Deca Durabolin) in patients with HIV wasting who are resistant to nutritional intervention.

Design: A 16-week open trial with subjects who had lost 5-15% of their usual body weight.

Setting: HIV/AIDS specialist ambulatory care services, both public and private, in sydney, Australia.

Participants: Two hundred and twenty men entered the pre-therapy phase, and of these, 24 failed to gain weight and were enrolled. Seventeen subjects (81%) completed the 16-week trial.

Interventions: Pre-therapy nutritional assessment and education was conducted by the clinical dietitian. Those who failed to gain weight (10.9%) were treated with nandrolone decanoate (100 mg/ml) by deep intramuscular injection every 2 weeks for 16 weeks.

Main outcome measures: Changes in weight and body composition (lean body mass, total body water and nitrogen index) were measured by anthropometry, bioelectrical impedance, and in vivo neutron activation. Changes in quality of life were assessed by the 30-item Medical Outcomes Study short form questionnaire. Changes in biochemistry, haematology and immunology were also measured.

Results: There were significant increases in weight (mean, 0.14 kg per week; P < 0.05) and lean body mass (mean, 3 kg by anthropometry; P < 0.005). The change in lean body mass was of similar magnitude across all measurement modalities. Quality of life parameters, especially functionality, increased significantly during the trial. No subject experienced toxicity.

Conclusion: Nandrolone decanoate has beneficial effects on weight, lean body mass and quality of life in selected patients who have mild to moderate HIV wasting.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Wasting Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nandrolone / adverse effects
  • Nandrolone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Nandrolone / therapeutic use
  • Nandrolone Decanoate
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Dietary Fats
  • Nandrolone
  • Nandrolone Decanoate
  • Nitrogen