Myosin heavy chain expression pattern as a marker for anabolic potency: desoxymethyltestosterone (madol), norandrostenedione and testosterone repress MHC-IIb expression and stimulate MHC-IId/x expression in orchiectomized rat gastrocnemius muscle

S Frese, M Velders, B Schleipen, W Schänzer, W Bloch, P Diel
Archives of Toxicology 2011, 85 (6): 635-43
Both 19-norandrostenedione (estr-4-ene-3,17-dione, NOR) and desoxymethyltestosterone (17alpha-methyl-5alpha-androst-2-en-17beta-ol, DMT or "madol") are 'designer steroids' misused for doping purposes in the bodybuilding scene. We have previously characterized the pharmacological profile of madol and identified potential adverse side effects. The aim of this study was to investigate the anabolic potency of NOR, madol and the reference substance testosterone propionate (TP). Besides wet weight of the M.levator ani (LA), we examined the effects on muscle fiber type composition and myosin heavy chain (MHC) expression in the M.gastrocnemius (Gas) muscle as additional markers for anabolic potency. A Hershberger assay was performed, where orchiectomized (orchi) male Wistar rats were treated subcutaneously with NOR, madol, TP or vehicle control (all 1 mg/kg BW/day) for 12 days. Wet weights of the Gas, LA, prostate and seminal vesicle were examined to determine anabolic and androgenic effects. Fiber type composition of the Gas muscle was analyzed using ATPase staining, and MHC protein profiles were determined by silver stain and Western blot analysis. NOR and madol exhibited strong anabolic and weak androgenic potency by stimulating growth of the LA but not the prostate and seminal vesicle. Skeletal muscle fiber type composition characterized by ATPase staining was not significantly altered between the treatment groups, although there was a tendency toward lower levels of type IIB and increased type IIA fibers in all treatment groups relative to orchi. MHC protein expression determined by Western blot and silver stain analysis revealed that MHC IId/x was significantly up-regulated, while MHC IIb was significantly down-regulated in NOR, madol and TP groups relative to orchi. There were no significant differences for MHC IIa and MHC I expression between groups. Results suggest that the observed MHC expression shift could serve as a molecular marker to determine anabolic activity of anabolic steroids at least in skeletal muscle of orchi rats. The molecular mechanisms as well as the androgen-dependent regulation of MHC expression in intact skeletal muscle remain to be further investigated.

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