Misuse of androgenic-anabolic steroids and human deltoid muscle fibers: differences between polydrug regimens and single drug administration

F. Hartgens*, H.W.M. van Straaten, S. Fideldij, G.J.W.M. Rietjens, H.A. Keizer, H. Kuipers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Netherlands Centre for Doping Affairs, Capelle aan den IJssel, The Netherlands. fred.hartgens@bw.unimaas.nl

The objective of this investigation was to study the effects of androgenic-anabolic steroid (AAS) misuse on deltoid muscle fiber characteristics in experienced, male strength-trained athletes. In a double-blind study, 15 volunteers were administered nandrolone decanoate (ND) for 8 weeks (200 mg/week, intramuscularly). In an additional study, 12 subjects self-administered various AASs at supratherapeutic dosages (AAS group), while 7 non-users served as controls. In all subjects, a percutaneous needle biopsy sample of the deltoid muscle was obtained at baseline and after 8 weeks. Muscle sections were pre-incubated at pH 4.4, stained with adenosine triphosphatase and analyzed morphometrically. In each biopsy sample, at least 150 fibers were classified for "gray level" and "lesser fiber diameter" to determine the mean fiber size, the sizes of type I and type II fibers, and the fiber type distribution. ND administration did not seem to affect any of those parameters. In the AAS group, mean muscle fiber size (+ 12.6%), and the size of type I (+ 10.8%) and type II (+ 14.6%) muscle fibers increased. The fiber type distribution remained unaltered. We conclude that polydrug regimens of AAS misuse at supratherapeutic dosages increased the size of deltoid muscle fibers (especially type II fibers) in experienced strength-trained athletes, while ND at a therapeutic intramuscular dose of 200 mg did not exert any effect.

Publication Types:
Clinical Trial
Controlled Clinical Trial
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-239
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002

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