Next Article in Journal
Analysis of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption by Children in School Canteens Depending on Selected Sociodemographic Factors
Previous Article in Journal
Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Factors Contrasted with Fibrinolysis Disorders in the Blood of Patients with Peripheral Arterial Disease
Open AccessReview

Neuropsychiatric and Behavioral Involvement in AAS Abusers. A Literature Review

Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, 71122 Foggia, Italy
Department of Medical, Surgical and Advanced Technologies “G.F. Ingrassia”, University of Catania, 95121 Catania, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Medicina 2019, 55(7), 396;
Received: 30 May 2019 / Revised: 2 July 2019 / Accepted: 18 July 2019 / Published: 22 July 2019
PDF [1177 KB, uploaded 22 July 2019]


Background and Objectives: Anabolic androgenic steroids (AASs) are a complex group of molecules that include both steroidal androgens and synthetic compounds, derived from testosterone. AASs are commonly used to support pharmacological therapy in cases of primary or secondary hypogonadism, major burns, and neoplastic cachexia. Their prolonged and supra-physiological consumption can provoke several adverse effects on various organs and systems. Among these, the physiopathological mechanisms that induce neuropsychiatric disorders related to AAS abuse are poorly known. For this reason, the proposed review aims to retrace the pathway of action of testosterone to focus on the effects on the central nervous system and specifically highlight the effects of AASs on neuropsychiatric and behavioral functions, as well as on lifestyle. Materials and Methods: This review was conducted using PubMed and Google Scholar databases. On these database websites, we searched for articles from 1 January 1980 to March 2019 using the key terms: “AAS,” “Anabolic Androgenic Steroids,” “brain,” and “neurology.” Results: The use of AASs through self-administration yields circulating androgens levels, inducing neuron apoptosis, which is linked to thinner cortex and, in general, less cortical volume. The same alterations affect the putamen. These differences were more evident when correlated with longer use. From a functional point of view, prolonged AAS consumption seemed to be related to lower connectivity between amygdala and frontal, striatal, limbic, hippocampal and visual cortical areas. On the other hand, AAS use seems to negatively condition the positive effects of the sport exercise, reducing its important anti-apoptotic and pro-proliferative functions on the hippocampus, implicated in anxiolytic control. Conclusion: This review clarifies the major aspects of the side effects related to AAS use/abuse highlighting the complex mechanisms on neuropsychiatric and cognitive pathological alterations and also the emotional and behavioral dysfunctions. View Full-Text
Keywords: anabolic androgenic steroids; side effects; lifestyle; neuropsychiatric manifestations; behavior anabolic androgenic steroids; side effects; lifestyle; neuropsychiatric manifestations; behavior

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Bertozzi, G.; Salerno, M.; Pomara, C.; Sessa, F. Neuropsychiatric and Behavioral Involvement in AAS Abusers. A Literature Review. Medicina 2019, 55, 396.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Medicina EISSN 1010-660X Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top