The potential effects of anabolic-androgenic steroids and growth hormone as commonly used sport supplements on the kidney : a systematic review

The potential effects of anabolic-androgenic steroids and growth hormone as commonly used sport supplements on the kidney: a systematic review / Dorna Davani-Davari, Iman Karimzadeh, Hossein Khalili. - (BMC Nephrology 20 (2019) 198 (31 May); p. 1-12).

  • PMID: 31151420.
  • PMCID: PMC6545019.
  • DOI: 10.1186/s12882-019-1384-0


Anabolic-androgenic steroids and growth hormone are among the most commonly used supplements by sportsmen and sportswomen. The aim of this systematic review is to collect and report available data about renal safety of anabolic-androgenic steroids and growth hormone (GH).

The search strategy was in accordance with the PRISMA guideline. Seven databases such as Scopus, Medline, Embase, and ISI Web of Knowledge were searched using keywords, such as "growth hormone", "anabolic-androgenic steroids", and "kidney injury". Articles published from 1950 to December 2017 were considered. Randomized clinical trials, prospective or retrospective human studies, case series as well as case reports, and experimental (in vivo) studies were included. Twenty one clinical and experimental articles were selected (12 for anabolic-androgenic steroids and 9 for GH).

Anabolic-androgenic steroids can affect the kidney in different aspects. They can induce or aggravate acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease, and glomerular toxicity. These adverse effects are mediated through pathways such as stimulating renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, enhancing the production of endothelin, producing reactive oxygen species, over-expression of pro-fibrotic and pro-apoptotic mediators (e.g., TGF-β1), as well as inflammatory cytokines (e.g., TNF-α, IL-1b, and IL-6). Although GH may affect the kidney in different aspects, such as size, glomerular filtration rate, and tubule functions, either directly or indirectly, there is no conclusive clinical evidence about its detrimental effects on the kidney in athletes and body builders.

Evidence regarding effects of anabolic-androgenic steroids exists; However, GH's exact effect on the kidney at doses used by athletes and body builders has not yet been clarified. Cohort clinical studies with long-term follow-up are warranted in this regard.

Original document


31 May 2019
Davani-Davari, Dorna
Karimzadeh, Iman
Khalili, Hossein
Iran, Islamic Republic of
Other organisations
Shiraz University of Medical Sciences (SUMS)
Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS)
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S1. Anabolic Agents
S2. Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors
Growth hormone (GH)
Medical terms
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Kidney / liver disease
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Scientific article
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Date generated
17 October 2019
Date of last modification
1 December 2021
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