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Neurosci Lett. 2000 Apr 28;284(3):190-4.

Effects of the androgenic anabolic steroid, nandrolone decanoate, on adrenocorticotropin hormone, corticosterone and proopiomelanocortin, corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) and CRF receptor1 mRNA levels in the hypothalamus, pituitary and amygdala of the rat.

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The Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA.


There is increasing abuse of androgenic anabolic steroids (AAS) by non-athletes. AAS abuse has been associated with psychiatric symptoms such as mania, major depression and aggression and the development of dependence. Little is known about the effects of AAS on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function or corticotropin releasing factor, which may be involved in mediating some of the psychiatric symptoms associated with AAS abuse. Male Sprague-Dawley rats received one daily intra-muscular injection of the AAS nandrolone decanoate (ND, 15 mg/kg) or vehicle for 3 days. Animals were sacrificed either 1 h or 24 h after the last injection, brain regions dissected and trunk blood collected. Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), CRF receptor1 (CRF-R1) and proopiomelanocortin (POMC) mRNAs were measured with solution hybridization/RNase protection. Circulating levels of corticosterone and adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) were determined using radioimmunoassays. One hour following the last injection, ND significantly increased circulating levels of both corticosterone and ACTH levels. In the amygdala, CRF mRNA levels were unchanged 1 h after the last injection of ND but were significantly reduced at 24 h. The same was found for hypothalamic POMC. No significant AAS effects were observed on: hypothalamic CRF mRNA; POMC mRNA in the amygdala or CRF R1 mRNA in the anterior pituitary.

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