Adverse Effects of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids: A Literature Review

Adverse Effects of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids : A Literature Review / Giuseppe Davide Albano, Francesco Amico, Giuseppe Cocimano, Aldo Liberto, Francesca Maglietta, Massimiliano Esposito, Giuseppe Li Rosi, Nunzio Di Nunno, Monica Salerno, Angelo Montana. - (Healthcare 9 (2021) 1 (January 19) 97; p. 1-19)

  • PMID: 33477800
  • PMCID: PMC7832337
  • DOI: 10.3390/healthcare9010097


Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AASs) are a large group of molecules including endogenously produced androgens, such as testosterone, as well as synthetically manufactured derivatives. AAS use is widespread due to their ability to improve muscle growth for aesthetic purposes and athletes' performance, minimizing androgenic effects. AAS use is very popular and 1-3% of US inhabitants have been estimated to be AAS users. However, AASs have side effects, involving all organs, tissues and body functions, especially long-term toxicity involving the cardiovascular system and the reproductive system, thereby, their abuse is considered a public health issue. The aim of the proposed review is to highlight the most recent evidence regarding the mechanisms of action of AASs and their unwanted effects on organs and lifestyle, as well as suggesting that AAS misuse and abuse lead to adverse effects in all body tissues and organs. Oxidative stress, apoptosis, and protein synthesis alteration are common mechanisms involved in AAS-related damage in the whole body. The cardiovascular system and the reproductive system are the most frequently involved apparatuses. Epidemiology as well as the molecular and pathological mechanisms involved in the neuropsychiatric side-effects of AAS abuse are still unclear, further research is needed in this field. In addition, diagnostically reliable tests for AAS abuse should be standardized. In this regard, to prevent the use of AASs, public health measures in all settings are crucial. These measures consist of improved knowledge among healthcare workers, proper doping screening tests, educational interventions, and updated legislation.

Original document


19 January 2021
Albano, Giuseppe Davide
Amico, Francesco
Cocimano, Giuseppe
Esposito, Massimiliano
Liberto, Aldo
Maglietta, Francesca
Montana, Angelo
Nunno, Nunzio
Rosi, Giuseppe Li
Salerno, Monica
Other organisations
Università degli Studi di Catania - University of Catania
Università degli Studi di Foggia - University of Foggia
Università degli studi Magna Græcia di Catanzaro - Magna Græcia University of Catanzaro
Università del Salento - University of Salento
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S1. Anabolic Agents
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Health effects
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Scientific article
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Date generated
18 October 2021
Date of last modification
26 October 2021
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