Clinical Briefs-By Louis Kuritzky, MD

Oral Androstenedione Administration and Serum Testosterone Concentrations in Young Men

Androstenedione (ansd) has recently become popular among the lay public for (unsubstantiated) claims that it will have anabolic effects similar to those of anabolic steroids, reportedly increasing testosterone levels. Since ANSD is available over the counter as a dietary supplement, substantial numbers of individuals may be using it in an attempt to enhance athletic ability, without proof of efficacy. The current study examined the effect of 100-300 mg per day ANSD orally on testosterone levels in healthy young men (n = 42). Measured responses included testosterone, estradiol, estrone, LH, FSH, and sex-hormone-binding globulin.

Serum testosterone was significantly increased by the 300-mg dose ANSD, but not by the 100-mg dose. Both ANSD doses significantly increased estradiol and estrone levels. Other measured markers did not change with ANSD supplementation. This study documents that short-term administration of higher doses (at least 300 mg) of ANSD are associated with increased levels of testosterone. Such elevations in women could have virilizing effects; in men, the elevated estrogen could also have feminizing effects (e.g., gynecomastia); in children, premature epiphyseal closure due to supraphysiologic amounts of gonadal steroids could lead to reduced ultimate height.

Leder BZ, et al. JAMA 2000;283:779-782.