Since its discovery, several chemical modifications in the testosterone molecule have been done by pharmaceutical industry in order to improve its pharmacological effects, resulting in the creation of anabolic steroids (AS). Despite the therapeutic benefits, AS abuse has spread among elite and recreational athletes in the search for improvements on physical appearance and physical performance. Illicit use of anabolic AS has been correlated with several adverse effects, such as cardiovascular, endocrine, reproductive, and neurobehavioral dysfunctions. Recently, declines on cognitive and mnemonic performance have been demonstrated clinically and experimentally. Experimental studies have demonstrated that these neurological dysfunctions are correlated to spread neuronal apoptosis throughout important areas of the central nervous system (CNS), such as hippocampus and cortex. Several pathophysiological mechanisms have been linked to the AS-induced neurotoxicity, including redox imbalance and recruitment of pro-apoptotic downstream pathways. Furthermore, exposure to AS has arisen as a potential risk factor to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Altogether, these evidences imply that AS abuse per se induces neurodegeneration and can aggravate the prognosis of neurodegenerative diseases.
Part of the book: Sex Hormones in Neurodegenerative Processes and Diseases