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Anabolic steroids and tendons: A review of their mechanical, structural, and biologic effects.

  • Author(s): Jones, Ian A;
  • Togashi, Ryan;
  • Hatch, George F Rick, 3rd;
  • Weber, Alexander E;
  • Vangsness, C Thomas, Jr
  • et al.

One of the suspected deleterious effects of androgenic-anabolic steroids (AAS) is the increased risk for tendon rupture. However, investigations to date have produced inconsistent results and it is still unclear how AAS influence tendons. A systematic review of the literature was conducted to identify studies that have investigated the mechanical, structural, or biologic effects that AAS have on tendons. In total, 18 highly heterogeneous studies were identified. Small animal studies made up the vast majority of published research, and contradictory results were reported frequently. All of the included studies focused on the potential deleterious effects that AAS have on tendon, which is striking given the recent use of AAS in patients following tendon injury. Rather than providing strong evidence for or against the use of AAS, this review highlights the need for additional research. Future studies investigating the use of AAS as a possible treatment for tendon injury/pathology are supported by reports suggesting that AAS may counteract the irreparable structural/functional changes that occur in the musculotendinous unit following rotator cuff tears, as well as studies suggesting that the purported deleterious effects on tendon may be transient. Other possible areas for future research are discussed in the context of key findings that may have implications for the therapeutic application of AAS. © 2018 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res.

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