Oxandrolone in AIDS-wasting myopathy

AIDS. 1996 Dec;10(14):1657-62. doi: 10.1097/00002030-199612000-00010.


Objective: To evaluate oxandrolone, an oral anabolic steroid with potent anabolic activity and minimal androgenic effects, for the treatment of AIDS-associated myopathy and wasting.

Methods: In a multicenter, double-blind study, 63 HIV-seropositive men with > 10% loss of body weight were randomized to receive either placebo, 5 mg/day oxandrolone, or 15 mg/day oxandrolone for 16 weeks. Body weight, neuromuscular evaluation, and measures of well-being were repeatedly assessed.

Results: Patients who received 15 mg/day oxandrolone showed weight gain throughout the 16-week treatment period. Overall, the 5 mg/day oxandrolone group maintained their weight gain over the 16-week period, whereas the placebo group showed continual weight loss. At week 16, significantly more patients in the 15 mg/day dose group reported increases in appetite and activity than those receiving placebo. There were no consistent, dose-related, statistically significant differences from baseline in laboratory values or adverse events.

Conclusion: Oxandrolone, at a dose of either 5 mg/day or 15 mg/day, in contrast to placebo, had a positive impact on the weight and well-being of HIV-seropositive patients suffering from wasting and weakness. Measurable improvement in muscle strength was not noted at the doses employed in this study. Oxandrolone was well tolerated in all the patients who were enrolled in the study. Based on the results reported here, additional studies using higher doses of oxandrolone seem warranted.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Anabolic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscular Atrophy / drug therapy*
  • Muscular Atrophy / etiology
  • Oxandrolone / administration & dosage*
  • Weight Loss*


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Oxandrolone