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Androgenic-Anabolic Steroids: From the Gymnasium to Drug-Induced Liver Damage

Drug-induced liver damage (DILI) is a frequent explanation for liver toxicity. We describe the case of a 32-year-old male affected person with none related previous medical historical past or medicine use. Up to now two months, he was engaged in weightlifting workouts and consumed androgenic-anabolic steroids to reinforce his train routine. The affected person initially skilled choluria and acholia for 2 weeks, adopted by itching for 2 days, which led him to current to the emergency room. His laboratory outcomes revealed cytocholestasis. He was admitted for investigations and after excluding different causes of liver damage, the prognosis of DILI associated to the consumption of androgenic-anabolic steroids was made. This case report highlights the perils of utilizing performance-enhancing substances akin to androgenic-anabolic steroids, which can result in extreme unintended effects like DILI.


Drug-induced liver damage (DILI) is without doubt one of the commonest causes of drug withdrawal from markets at the moment [1-4]. The incidence of DILI is about 10.15 per 100,000 people [5], and it accounts for round 10% of all circumstances of acute hepatitis; additionally it is probably the most frequent explanation for acute liver failure in the USA (US) [6-8]. Within the US, the medication extra steadily related to DILI are acetaminophen and the mix of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid [9-11].

Androgenic-anabolic steroids may be synthetic or natural merchandise and are used to realize muscle mass and lose physique fats. As per a meta-analysis of 187 research, the prevalence of androgenic-anabolic steroid consumption was reportedly 3.3%, and nearly all of circumstances concerned non-professional athletes, which factors to a harmful actuality and a critical public well being situation [12-13].

We current the case of a beforehand wholesome male who developed DILI after the consumption of androgenic-anabolic steroids.

Case Presentation

The affected person was a 32-year-old male, a baker, who didn’t have any related previous medical historical past. There was no household historical past of normal medicine use, and no consumption of alcohol, tobacco, or any drug abuse.

The affected person’s laboratory checks confirmed hyperbilirubinemia brought on by direct bilirubin (DBrb), cytocholestasis, and dyslipidemia (elevated LDL ldl cholesterol and triglycerides); he was subsequently despatched to the emergency room. He introduced with jaundice, choluria, and acholia for 2 weeks and itching for 2 days. There was no historical past of tea and wild mushroom consumption, or any dangerous sexual contacts. After an exhaustive anamnesis, he admitted to consuming artificial androgenic-anabolic steroids (2,3-epithio-17 a-methyl-17b-hydroxy-5y androsterone). His bodily examination revealed jaundice. The blood checks on the emergency room revealed eosinophilia (490/uL; regular worth: 60-460) and elevated aspartate aminotransferase (AST) of 84 U/L (regular worth: <40), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) at 138 U/L (regular worth: <41), lactic dehydrogenase (LDH) at 258 U/L (regular worth: 135-225), whole bilirubin (TBrb) at 9.40 mg/dl (regular worth: <1.2), DBrb at 9.00 mg/dl (regular worth: <0.3), whole proteins at 7.9 g/dl (regular worth: 6.6-8.7), albumin of 5.2 g/dl (regular worth: 3.4-4.8), and no alteration on coagulation checks. The belly CT revealed average hepatomegaly, slight splenomegaly, and no dilation or obstruction of bile ducts. In gentle of this, the affected person was admitted for investigations of cholestatic hepatitis.

Throughout his hospital keep, he skilled liver dysfunction: hyperbilirubinemia (most worth of 26 mg/dl) brought on by DBrb (most worth of 21 mg/dl), and in addition impairment associated to whole ldl cholesterol (most worth of 385 mg/dl) and LDL ldl cholesterol (most worth of 321 mg/dl); the affected person additionally had a lower of HDL ldl cholesterol (minimal worth of 4 mg/dl). The remaining blood checks – serological checks (HIV; hepatitis A, B, C; Epstein-Barr; cytomegalovirus; infectious mononucleosis and brucellosis) and autoimmune checks (ANA, anti-mitochondrial, anti-SLA, anti-LC1, and anti-smooth muscle antibodies) – have been unfavourable. After the exclusion of different etiologies of liver failure, a prognosis of DILI was assumed based mostly on his steroid abuse. On the similar time, he was began on therapy with intravenous N acetylcysteine (NAC) protocol (NAC 150 mg/kg in a single hour, adopted by NAC 50 mg/Kg in 4 hours, after which NAC 100 mg/kg in 16 hours) and oral corticoids with prednisolone 1 mg/kg/day. A liver biopsy was additionally carried out, with the histological findings of canicular cholestasis accidents, which have been suggestive of hepatitis on the high-resolution picture (black arrow), as proven in Determine 1.


Opposite to the expectations in the beginning of the therapy, the affected person’s situation didn’t enhance, and therefore he underwent a pre-transplant examine, as a result of unpredictability of the medical course.

After one month of administration, together with symptomatic therapy, the affected person was discharged beneath ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) for itching, using which isn’t well-documented within the literature, however led to favorable ends in our affected person. He was beneath strict monitoring throughout the ambulatory seek the advice of and subsequently on the hepatology seek the advice of. He skilled progressive enchancment of hepatic operate with whole normalization after three months.


Though DILI is a uncommon illness, it stays probably the most frequent causes of drug withdrawal from the market. It will probably additionally result in critical opposed results in some circumstances [1,2,8]. DILI may be categorized into totally different subtypes in response to its physiological mechanisms: cytotoxic (related to hepatocellular damage), cholestatic, or combined. It can be categorized into acute, if the length is lower than three months, or persistent, if the length is greater than three months [2,14,15]. Persistent DILI has medical manifestations that may be just like persistent hepatic liver illness, autoimmune hepatitis, main biliary cirrhosis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver illness (NAFLD) [2,3]. DILI’s medical manifestations can vary from asymptomatic, with a slight enhance in aminotransferases, to symptomatic kinds: with extreme cholestasis and itching, acute hepatitis and jaundice, or acute liver failure [1,6-7,14,16-17].

Cholestatic DILI is outlined as a rise in alkaline phosphatase (ALP) higher than two instances the traditional worth and/or an ALT/ALP ratio of lower than 2 [18]. Using androgenic-anabolic steroids is often related to cholestatic DILI, and additionally it is associated to a lower in HDL ldl cholesterol and a rise in whole and LDL levels of cholesterol [12,13].

We mentioned a case of cholestatic DILI induced by the consumption of artificial androgenic-anabolic steroids, with a rise in aminotransferases and bilirubin. As per Hy’s Legislation, having an ALT degree thrice higher than regular plus a serum bilirubin degree two instances higher than regular is related to a foul prognosis [19,20]. Our affected person fulfilled the factors for a poor prognosis: his ALT degree was thrice the higher degree of regular and his serum bilirubin degree was eight instances the higher degree of regular. Therefore, a pre-transplant examine was carried out, despite the fact that the affected person didn’t have hepatic encephalopathy and/or coagulopathy, that are thought-about indicators of acute liver failure. The affected person was on follow-up for one yr with hepatology, and he was discovered to keep up regular values of bilirubin and aminotransferase. He was discharged with suggestions to keep away from androgenic-anabolic steroids.

The 17α-alkylated androgenic-anabolic steroids are well-liked amongst athletes as a result of their ease of oral uptake; examples embrace testosterone, stanozolol, or nandrolone. The abusive consumption of those substances can result in extreme opposed unintended effects, akin to a rise in thrombotic threat, and cardiovascular threat with dyslipidemia [12,13]. Additionally, it has been proven that this type of androgenic-anabolic steroids can induce liver toxicity by the use of direct mechanisms. This case report sheds gentle on the intense opposed results of androgenic-anabolic steroids when used for leisure functions or for efficiency enhancement.

Desk 1 presents a literature evaluate of DILI.

Article Article/examine sort Proof
Friis and Andreasen, 1992 [6] Inhabitants-based examine This examine reviewed 1,100 stories of opposed drug reactions related to DILI and concluded that paracetamol was reported to induce acute cytotoxic in addition to cholestatic reactions in non-alcoholic topics taking therapeutic doses
Sgro et al., 2002 [5] Inhabitants-based examine The examine assessed the incidence and gravity of hepatic damage in opposed drug reactions over a interval of three years; 34 circumstances have been reported in a French inhabitants. It was concluded that the incidence and seriousness of drug-induced hepatitis are largely underestimated within the normal inhabitants; on this explicit examine, the incidence of hepatic damage was 16 instances increased than anticipated by spontaneous stories
Ostapowicz et al., 2002 [9] Potential examine The examine analyzed 17 tertiary care facilities in the USA with an goal to look at the medical options, presumed causes, and short-term outcomes of acute liver failure; it concluded that acetaminophen overdose and idiosyncratic drug reactions have changed viral hepatitis as probably the most frequent obvious causes of acute liver failure
Chang et al., 2007 [4] Assessment article This text reviewed the hepatotoxicity of choose generally used drug courses, together with anabolic steroids. It concluded that amoxicillin-clavulanic acid is without doubt one of the most steadily implicated causes of drug-induced liver damage worldwide, adopted by statins and antiretroviral medication. It additionally concluded that genetic polymorphisms might account for a number of the variations in particular person susceptibility to drug hepatotoxicity
Chalasani et al., 2008 [7] Potential examine This examine included 300 sufferers and concluded that DILI in the USA is brought on by all kinds of prescription and nonprescription drugs, dietary dietary supplements, and natural dietary supplements, with antibiotics accounting for almost all of the circumstances (45%). It additionally concluded that 20% of circumstances of DILI have been brought on by multiple hepatotoxic agent
Barceloux et al., 2013 [12] Authentic article The article critiques the traits of anabolic steroids, the epidemiology of their use, their dose-dependent results, toxicity, and mechanisms of motion, and elaborates on therapy strategies, that are primarily supportive

The prognosis of DILI may be tough and it’s an underdiagnosed situation; we made our prognosis by ruling out different attainable entities. Our affected person was significantly unwell and introduced with typical manifestations of liver toxicity. A prognosis of cholestatic DILI was made, based mostly on a number of extreme illness markers. We initiated and continued with the required therapy, which led to an enchancment within the affected person’s situation.


The leisure use of androgenic-anabolic steroids, often by non-professional athletes, is a rising phenomenon and a critical public well being situation. On the similar time, DILI stays the principal cause for drug withdrawal from the market and additionally it is the reason for acute hepatitis in 10% of the circumstances. Additionally, it’s crucial to be alert to the liver toxicity that these substances can induce, and early and immediate detection of any liver damage is paramount to keep away from the event of DILI. In some circumstances, there could also be discrepancies between preliminary medical manifestations and laboratory outcomes. DILI in extreme circumstances can progress to acute liver failure and is a sign for liver transplantation, which additional emphasizes the significance of early prognosis and therapy. Major care clinics ought to increase consciousness amongst individuals concerning the perils of utilizing anabolic steroids in order that extreme unintended effects like DILI may be successfully prevented.

Our affected person, regardless of the severity of his situation, had a positive end result and didn’t must bear liver transplantation. Additionally, one other fascinating facet of this case was using UDCA for symptomatic management, which helped within the general enchancment of our affected person; nevertheless, this affiliation isn’t effectively described within the literature.

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