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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2011 Jul;125(3-5):192-201. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2011.01.007. Epub 2011 Jan 25.

Influence of anabolic combinations of an androgen plus an estrogen on biochemical pathways in bovine uterine endometrium and ovary.

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Physiology-Weihenstephan, Technical University Munich, Weihenstephaner Berg 3, 85384 Freising, Germany.


The application of anabolic steroids in food producing animals is forbidden in the EU since 1988, but the abuse of such drugs is a potential problem. The existing test systems are based on known compounds and can be eluded by newly emerging substances. The examination of physiological effects of anabolic hormones on different tissues to indirectly detect misuse might overcome this problem. Two studies were conducted with post-pubertal 24-months old Nguni heifers and pre-pubertal female 2-4 weeks old Holstein Friesian calves, respectively. The animals of the accordant treatment groups were administered combinations of estrogenic and androgenic compounds. The measurement of the gene expression pattern was undertaken with RT-qPCR. Target genes of different functional groups (receptors, angiogenesis, steroid synthesis, proliferation, apoptosis, nutrient metabolism and others) have been quantified. Several biochemical pathways were shown to be influenced by anabolic treatment. Both studies identified significant regulations in steroid and growth factor receptors (AR, ERβ, LHR, FSHR, Flt-1, PR, IGF-1R, Alk-6), angiogenic and tissue remodeling factors (VEGFs, FGFs, BMPs, ANGPT-2, MMPs, TIMP-2, CTSB), steroid synthesis (S5A1, HSD17, CYP19A1), proliferation (TNFα, IGF-1, IGFBPs, p53, c-fos; CEBPD, c-kit), apoptosis (CASP3, FasL, p53) and others (C7, INHA, STAR). Several genes were regulated to opposite directions in post-pubertal compared to pre-pubertal animals. PCA for Nguni heifers demonstrated a distinct separation between the control and the treatment group. In conclusion, anabolics modify hormone sensitivity and steroid synthesis, and they induce proliferative effects in the whole reproductive tract (uterus and ovary) as well as anti-angiogenic effects in the ovary. However, the extent will depend on the developmental stage of the animals.

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