Does Trenbolone Cause Brain Damage?
Is one of the most popular anabolic agents of our day leading many users down a dangerous road of mental decline?
By William Llewellyn
You might have caught wind of the story. It has made the rounds on social media, sparking a great deal of debate on both sides of the steroid fence, so to speak. The story involves a research study from Shandong University in Jinan, China, which was published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.1 It suggests there may be a particularly dark and previously unknown side to trenbolone. According to the team, this widely popular anabolic steroid can cause neurodegeneration. If true, trenbolone misuse could be a risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Is this possible? Is one of the most popular anabolic agents of our day leading many users down a dangerous road of mental decline? Let’s take a look at this paper and see what the discussion is about.
Before we get into a discussion about the findings of the study, it is important to first look at the experiments and how they were conducted. This particular investigation was done in two parts. The first part involved in vitro (cell incubation) experiments. Here, the researchers incubated brain neurons (primary hippocampal neurons, to be specific) with trenbolone, and measured the effect on cell health and function. The second part involved in vivo (live animal) experiments. These were conducted with rats, both adult and pregnant animals. After a control group was split off, the remaining animals were injected with large doses of trenbolone. The distribution of the steroid was assessed, along with the resulting effect on serum hormones, beta-amyloid peptide-42 (AB42) accumulation and other Alzheimer’s disease-related parameters.
At first glance, the results of these experiments were indeed quite alarming. First, on the in vitro side, trenbolone was shown to cause distinct neurodegeneration (apoptosis). Normal programmed death of hippocampal neurons was notably accelerated in the presence of this steroid. Trenbolone was also shown to counter the neuroprotective effects of testosterone. Potentially harmful changes were also found during the in vivo experiments. Here, trenbolone was first shown to accumulate in the adult rat brain, especially in the hippocampus. Next, administration of this drug was associated with an increase in beta-amyloid protein, which is associated with Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline. There was also a decrease in presenilin-1 and an increase in caspase-3, both of which are also thought to play a role in the etiology of Alzheimer’s. It was shown that both androgen and estrogen receptors were involved in these changes.
So, what exactly does this all mean? The short answer is, we don’t know. Trenbolone is indeed a very powerful anabolic steroid. It is possible that with this potency comes a toxicity that we did not understand before. However, it is also possible these experiments bear no relevance to the human application of this drug. It is way too early to draw conclusions. This is only one study, and it was conducted on rats, not people. For now, I can only digest this paper into one simple vague warning. To date, trenbolone has not been widely studied in humans. We won’t know if there are indeed neurodegenerative effects associated with abusing this steroid without running more studies, particularly on humans. At the present time, this steroid is either unavailable, or a veterinary drug, in virtually every corner of the globe. Such studies are not likely to come easily or any time soon. Just keep that in mind if you still do choose to use trenbolone. Perhaps take caution and consider it sparingly, not as a base for every cycle.
William Llewellyn is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the use of performance-enhancing substances. He is the author of the bestselling anabolic steroid reference guide ANABOLICS and CEO of Molecular Nutrition. William is an accomplished researcher/developer in the field of anabolic substances, and is also a longtime advocate for harm reduction and legislative change. He built the website anabolic.org, an extensive online database of information on anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.
1. Fucui Ma, Daicheng Liu. 17beta-trenbolone, an anabolic-androgenic steroid as well as an environmental hormone, contributes to neurodegeneration. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. Article published online Nov 24, 2014 (in press).
2. Borst SE, Shuster JJ, et al. Cardiovascular risks and elevation of serum DHT vary by route of testosterone administration: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Med 2014;Nov 27;12:211.
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