Safety and efficacy of nandrolone decanoate for treatment of wasting in patients with HIV infection

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate the safety and efficacy of the anabolic steroid, nandrolone decanoate (Deca Durabolin) in patients with HIV wasting who are resistant to nutritional intervention.

Design

A 16-week open trial with subjects who had lost 5–15% of their usual body weight.

Setting

HIV/AIDS specialist ambulatory care services, both public and private, in Sydney, Australia.

Participants

Two hundred and twenty men entered the pre-therapy phase, and of these, 24 failed to gain weight and were enrolled. Seventeen subjects (81%) completed the 16-week trial.

Interventions

Pre-therapy nutritional assessment and education was conducted by the clinical dietitian. Those who failed to gain weight (10.9%) were treated with nandrolone decanoate (100 mg/ml) by deep intramuscular injection every 2 weeks for 16 weeks.

Main outcome measures

Changes in weight and body composition (lean body mass, total body water and nitrogen index) were measured by anthropometry, bioelectrical impedance, and in vivo neutron activation. Changes in quality of life were assessed by the 30-item Medical Outcomes Study short form questionnaire. Changes in biochemistry, haematology and immunology were also measured.

Results

There were significant increases in weight (mean, 0.14 kg per week; P < 0.05) and lean body mass (mean, 3 kg by anthropometry; P < 0.005). The change in lean body mass was of similar magnitude across all measurement modalities. Quality of life parameters, especially functionality, increased significantly during the trial. No subject experienced toxicity.

Conclusion

Nandrolone decanoate has beneficial effects on weight, lean body mass and quality of life in selected patients who have mild to moderate HIV wasting.

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