What are Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic steroids are synthetic variations of the male sex hormone testosterone, which is naturally produced in the body. These compounds are known for their ability to promote anabolism, which refers to the process of building and repairing tissues, especially muscle tissue. Anabolic steroids have both androgenic (masculinizing) and anabolic (muscle-building) effects.
Anabolic steroids were initially developed in the late 1930s primarily to treat various medical conditions, including:
- Hormone deficiencies: Anabolic steroids are used to treat conditions where there is a deficiency of testosterone or related hormones.
- Delayed puberty: They may be prescribed to adolescents who experience delayed puberty.
- Muscle-wasting diseases: Anabolic steroids are used to counteract muscle loss in certain medical conditions, such as AIDS or cancer.
- Osteoporosis: They may be prescribed to treat osteoporosis and promote bone density in certain cases.
- Hormone replacement therapy: Anabolic steroids are used in hormone replacement therapy for men with low testosterone levels.
How Do They Work
Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of the hormone testosterone, which is naturally produced in the body. They are known for their ability to promote anabolism, which refers to the process of building and repairing tissues, particularly muscle tissue. Anabolic steroids work by interacting with androgen receptors found in various cells throughout the body. Here’s how they work:
1. Binding to Androgen Receptors: Anabolic steroids enter the cells and bind to androgen receptors within the cytoplasm or nucleus of the cell. Androgen receptors are proteins that respond to androgens, such as testosterone.
2. Translocation into the Nucleus: Once the steroid hormone binds to the androgen receptor, the hormone-receptor complex translocates into the cell nucleus.
3. Gene Expression Regulation: Within the nucleus, the hormone-receptor complex interacts with specific regions of DNA, known as hormone response elements. This interaction can lead to the upregulation or downregulation of specific genes.
4. Protein Synthesis: The activation of certain genes can lead to an increase in protein synthesis within the cells. This increased protein synthesis is responsible for the growth and repair of tissues, particularly muscle tissue, which is why anabolic steroids are used to enhance muscle growth.
5. Nitrogen Retention: Anabolic steroids also enhance nitrogen retention in the muscles. Nitrogen is an essential component of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. Increased nitrogen retention promotes a positive nitrogen balance, which supports muscle growth and recovery.
6. Inhibition of Catabolic Processes: Anabolic steroids may also inhibit catabolic processes, which are responsible for breaking down complex molecules into smaller ones. By reducing catabolism, anabolic steroids help prevent muscle breakdown, especially during periods of intense training or calorie restriction.