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J Pharmacol Toxicol Methods. 1995 Aug;33(4):187-95.

Toxic effects of anabolic-androgenic steroids in primary rat hepatic cell cultures.

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College of Pharmacy, Toxicology Program, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, USA.


Hepatic complications in athletes and bodybuilders after abusing anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) have been reported. Hepatic injury, including cholestasis, peliosis hepatis, hyperplasia, and tumors, have been attributed to abuse of the 17 alpha-alkylated AAS. Some of these pathological conditions have been reversed when individuals were converted to nonalkylated AAS regimens. The purpose of this study was to determine and compare the direct toxic effects of commonly abused AAS (both 17 alpha-alkylated and nonalkylated) in primary hepatic cell cultures. Primary cultures, established from 60-day-old Sprague-Dawley rats, were exposed to doses of 1 x 10(-8), 1 x 10(-6), and 1 x 10(-4)M 19-nortestosterone, fluoxymesterone, testosterone cypionate, stanozolol, danazol, oxymetholone, testosterone, estradiol, and methyltestosterone for 1, 4, and 24 hr. Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release, neutral red (NR) retention, and glutathione (GSH) depletion were evaluated to determine plasma membrane damage, cell viability, and possible oxidative injury, respectively. Those cultures exposed to the 17 alpha-alkylated AAS, methyltestosterone and stanozolol, at doses of 1 x 10(-4) M for 24 hr and the 17 alpha-alkylated AAS, oxymetholone, at 1 x 10(-4) M for 4 and 24 hr showed significant increased in LDH release and decreases in NR retention while there were no significant differences with the nonalkylated steroids (testosterone cypionate, 19-nortestosterone, testosterone, and estradiol). GSH depletion was evaluated in cultures treated with 1 x 10(-8), 1 x 10(-6), and 1 x 10(-4) M concentrations of methyltestosterone, stanozolol, and oxymetholone for 1, 2, 4, and 6 hr. Cultures exposed to 1 x 10(-4) M oxymetholone were significantly depleted of GSH at 2, 4, and 6 hr; cultures exposed to 1 x 10(-4) M methyltestosterone were significantly depleted of GSH at 4 and 6 hr; and cultures exposed to stanozolol were not significantly depleted of GSH at any of the time periods tested. These data indicate that the 17 alpha-alkylated steroids (methyltestosterone, oxymetholone, and stanozolol) are directly toxic to hepatocytes, whereas the nonalkylated steroids (testosterone cypionate, 19-nortestosterone, testosterone, and estradiol) show no effects at similar doses. These data demonstrate a trend toward a structural-activity relationship to AAS-induced toxicity in primary cultures of rat hepatocytes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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