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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2010 Jan;21(1):163-72. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2009040450. Epub 2009 Nov 16.

Development of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis after anabolic steroid abuse.

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  • 1Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Department of Pathology, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Anabolic steroid abuse adversely affects the endocrine system, blood lipids, and the liver, but renal injury has not been described. We identified an association of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and proteinuria in a cohort of 10 bodybuilders (six white and four Hispanic; mean body mass index 34.7) after long-term abuse of anabolic steroids. The clinical presentation included proteinuria (mean 10.1 g/d; range 1.3 to 26.3 g/d) and renal insufficiency (mean serum creatinine 3.0 mg/dl; range 1.3 to 7.8 mg/dl); three (30%) patients presented with nephrotic syndrome. Renal biopsy revealed FSGS in nine patients, four of whom also had glomerulomegaly, and glomerulomegaly alone in one patient. Three biopsies revealed collapsing lesions of FSGS, four had perihilar lesions, and seven showed > or =40% tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis. Among eight patients with mean follow-up of 2.2 yr, one progressed to ESRD, the other seven received renin-angiotensin system blockade, and one also received corticosteroids. All seven patients discontinued anabolic steroids, leading to weight loss, stabilization or improvement in serum creatinine, and a reduction in proteinuria. One patient resumed anabolic steroid abuse and suffered relapse of proteinuria and renal insufficiency. We hypothesize that secondary FSGS results from a combination of postadaptive glomerular changes driven by increased lean body mass and potential direct nephrotoxic effects of anabolic steroids. Because of the expected rise in serum creatinine as a result of increased muscle mass in bodybuilders, this complication is likely underrecognized.

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