Histological changes induced by testosterone abuse in the testis and the skeletal muscle of adult male albino rats

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The abuse of testosterone is more common among professional athletes and bodybuilders. Although the effects of increased skeletal muscle and athletic performance may be desirable, the associated physical, psychological, and behavioral side effects are often far more drastic and potentially damaging.

Aim of work

The present study was designed to evaluate the histological changes induced by exogenous testosterone abuse in the testis and the skeletal muscle of adult male albino rats and to detect the ability of self-regeneration after the stoppage.

Materials and methods

Thirty adult male rats were divided equally into a control group I and two experimental groups II and III (10 animals each). Rats of group II were subjected to intramuscular injection of 5 mg/kg 6 days/week of testosterone ester for 4 weeks. In group III, the rats were treated the same as in group II, and then they were left without treatment for another 2 weeks for recovery. At the time of sacrifice, all rats were anesthetized with ether and their testes and gastrocnemius leg muscles were dissected out and processed for light and electron microscope examination.


Microscopic examination revealed that most of the seminiferous tubules of group II were atrophied and vacuolated with a depleted germinal epithelial lining. The presence of giant cells, separation and disruption of Sertoli junction specialization, arrested spermatogenesis, and degenerated interstitial cells were also observed. In contrast, testosterone abuse induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy and splitting of the myofibers. Other pathological features included ring fibers, internal nuclei, and small angular fibers. Degenerated myofibers with apoptotic nuclei and even loss of some myofilaments were detected. However, in the recovery group III, the histological changes were reduced but not normal.


These results demonstrated that the testosterone overload had a negative action on the testis and the skeletal muscle histology, with some sort of self-recovery after stoppage. Hence, drug-prevention counseling to athletes and teenagers is highlighted and the use of anabolic steroids must be avoided.

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