Update on the Role of Actovegin in Musculoskeletal Medicine: A Review of the Past 10 Years

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Abstract

Background:

Actovegin is a biological drug with a controversial history of use in the treatment of sports injuries during the past 60 years. Particular concerns have been raised about its ergogenic potential to enhance performance, but some of these have been based on little more than anecdote.

Objectives:

In this article, we review the most recent scientific evidence to determine the clinical efficacy, safety profile, and legal status of Actovegin.

Methods:

We considered all studies directly commenting on experience with Actovegin use as the primary intervention within the past 10 years. Outcomes included mechanisms of action, clinical efficacy in enhancing muscle repair, any report of safety issues, and any evidence for ergogenic effect.

Results:

Our database search returned 212 articles, abstracts were screened, and after inclusion/exclusion criteria were applied, 25 articles were considered: Publications included 11 primary research articles (7 in vitro studies and 4 clinical trials), 8 review articles, 5 editorials, and a single case report.

Conclusions:

Current literature is still yet to define the active compound(s) of Actovegin, but suggests that it shows antioxidant and antiapoptotic properties, and may also upregulate macrophage responses central to muscle repair. Clinical efficacy was supported by one new original research article, and the use of Actovegin to treat muscle injuries remains safe and supported. Two articles argued the ergogenic effect of Actovegin, but in vitro findings did not to translate to the outcomes of a clinical trial. An adequate and meaningful scientific approach remains difficult in a field where there is immense pressure to deliver cutting-edge therapies.

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