Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research links adolescent steroid use to reduction in serotonin, altered signaling

09.08.2002


Study hypothesizes that adolescent steroid exposure may permanently alter the production of the ’feel good’ receptor



"With more than one in ten boys admitting to using steroids, muscle- and strength-enhancing drug use among teenagers has caused considerable concern among parents and researchers over the past decade, but until now, the longer-term physiological and neurological effects of its use on the developing brain have not been fully examined. Now, new research from Northeastern University, published in the latest issue of the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, documents the link between adolescent anabolic steroid use and aggression and partly associates the increases in aggression with deficits in the brain"s serotonin system. The study will examine longer-term deficiencies of serotonin levels in the brain as a result of damage from steroid use, suggesting that a tendency toward aggression and impulsiveness may actually linger long after both the steroid use and the muscles and strength developed have waned.

With funding from the National Institute of Health, Northeastern University psychology professor Richard Melloni and graduate student Jill Grimes examined the phenomenon of long-term steroid use through a series of experiments on groups of adolescent male Syrian hamsters. During adolescence, this particular breed of hamster displays a natural form of territorial aggression, has similar neurological circuitry to human beings and similar aggression and dominance patterns during its adolescent years, making it a natural model for neurological and behavioral experiments.


During the first experiment, the researchers administered a "high dose" of anabolic steroids to adolescent hamsters over the course of a month, a period corresponding to five years repeated dosage in human adolescents. Those hamsters given steroids were, as other studies have shown, more aggressive than those not treated with steroids.

In the second stage of the experiment, the researchers administered fluoxtine (Prozac), commonly used in treating depression in humans by encouraging the presence of serotonin (the "feel good" receptor), to the hamsters treated with chronic levels of steroids, and found that the previously aggressive tendencies were notably decreased. As in humans, aggressions were mellowed in the presence of Prozac, or serotonin.

Finally, the brains of the anabolic steroid-treated hamsters were examined under a microscope to determine the effect the drugs have on the developing nervous system. In those animals exposed to steroids, significantly lower levels of serotonin were present in the neural connections in their brains, particularly in areas related to aggression and violence.

Melloni and his students plan to conduct a series of follow-up experiments to examine whether the observed serotonin deficits in light of steroid use cause permanent and irreversible damage to the brain and how the neural abnormalities of adolescent anabolic steroid use may affect humans into adulthood. The researchers hypothesize that steroid exposure during adolescence decreases naturally occurring levels of the feel good receptor serotonin particularly in the hypothalamus, the area of the brain pinpointed for aggression and violence, and they plan to conduct a series of follow-up experiments to examine whether the serotonin deficiencies linger and what the longer-term abnormalities of adolescent steroid use actually are into adulthood.

"We know testosterone or steroids affect the development of serotonin nerve cells, which, in turn, decreases serotonin availability in the brain," Melloni said. "The serotonin neural system is still developing during adolescence and the use of anabolic steroids during this critical period appears to have immediate neural and behavioral consequences. Further research will allow us to determine whether or not these deficits are present into adulthood."

Continued steroid use during adolescence is linked not only to aggression and violence, but to a host of physiological problems, including liver diseases, problems with physical growth and development, and sexual dysfunction. Melloni notes that there is currently no long-term understanding of the effects of certain drug use on young people, and that drugs like Ritalin, among others, have no research indicating what aftereffects remain well into adulthood.

Steroid use, he says, is considerably on the rise, with more than ten percent of boys and three percent of girls admitting to regular use.

"Given the fact that we know so little about steroid"s long-term effects, the prospect of results from our research will be doubtlessly interesting and perhaps even frightening," Melloni said. "Perhaps through this sort of research we"ll be able to decrease the popularity of steroid use among teenagers."


Northeastern University, a private research institution located in Boston, Massachusetts, is a world leader in practice-oriented education. Building on its flagship cooperative education program, Northeastern links classroom learning with workplace experience and integrates professional preparation with study in the liberal arts and sciences. For more information, please visit www.northeastern.edu


Christine Phelan | EurekAlert!

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>