Testosterone pp 209-227 | Cite as

Androgens and muscles

  • Shalender Bhasin
  • Rachelle Bross
  • Thomas W. Storer
  • Richard Casaburi


Four thousand years ago, Sushruta described the use of testicular extracts for the treatment of impotence in the Indian scriptures, Ayurveda. In modern times, Charles Eduard Brown-Sequard resurrected interest in the use of testicular extracts for the treatment of aging-related illnesses and symptoms. Brown-Sequard claims to have rejuvenated himself by injecting the extracts of guinea pig testes. It is debatable whether the testicular extracts did him any good; however, for his insight that the secretions of one organ might affect other organs of the body, he is known as the father of modern Endocrinology. Ever since the chemical synthesis of testosterone in the 1930’s, there has been great interest in exploring the anabolic applications of androgens for augmenting muscle size and strength. The widespread abuse of androgenic steroids by athletes and recreational body builders is based on the premise that testosterone produces muscle hypertrophy and improves performance (Cowart 1987; Strauss and Yesalis 1991); this premise remained unsubstantiated for over 50 years, fueling one of the longest running, and highly polarizing debates in Endocrinology (American College of Sports Medicine 1984; Elashoff et al. 1991; Haupt and Rovere 1984; Mooradian et al. 1987; Strauss and Yesalis 1991; Wilson 1988). It is only in the last two to three years that well-controlled studies have unequivocally demonstrated that testosterone induces muscle hypertrophy under specific experimental conditions. We still do not know whether replacement or supraphysiologic doses of androgens improve muscle performance, or produce clinically meaningful changes in body composition in sarcopenic states such as HIV-infection, cancer cachexia, and aging. Furthermore, the anabolic effects of androgens on muscles vary with the age of the individual, the prevalent testosterone levels, the exercise stimulus, and the modulating influence of nutritional factors, growth hormone and other muscle-specific growth factors.


Anabolic Steroid Muscle Protein Synthesis Serum Testosterone Level Testosterone Replacement Testosterone Treatment 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shalender Bhasin
  • Rachelle Bross
  • Thomas W. Storer
  • Richard Casaburi

There are no affiliations available

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