Examining the effects of anabolic–androgenic steroids on repetitive mild traumatic brain injury (RmTBI) outcomes in adolescent rats

Jason Tabor, David K. Wright, Jennaya Christensen, Akram Zamani, Reid Collins, Sandy R. Shultz, Richelle Mychasiuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Repetitive mild traumatic brain injury (RmTBI) is increasingly common in adolescents. Anabolic–androgenic steroid (AAS) consumption among younger professional athletes is a significant risk factor for impaired neurodevelopment. Given the increased rates and overlapping symptomology of RmTBI and AAS use, we sought to investigate the behavioural and neuropathological outcomes associated with the AAS Metandienone (Met) and RmTBI on rats. Methods: Rats received either Met or placebo and were then administered RmTBIs or sham injuries, followed by a behavioural test battery. Post-mortem MRI was conducted to examine markers of brain integrity and qRT-PCR assessed mRNA expression of markers for neurodevelopment, neuroinflammation, stress responses, and repair processes. Results: Although AAS and RmTBI did not produce cumulative deficits, AAS use was associated with detrimental outcomes including changes to depression, aggression, and memory; prefrontal cortex (PFC) atrophy and amygdala (AMYG) enlargement; damaged white matter integrity in the corpus callosum; and altered mRNA expression in the PFC and AMYG. RmTBI affected general activity and contributed to PFC atrophy. Conclusions: Findings corroborate previous results indicating that RmTBI negatively impacts neurodevelopment but also demonstrates that AAS results in significant neuropathological insult to the developing brain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number258
Number of pages17
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Advanced MRI
  • Concussion
  • Development
  • Diffusion
  • MRNA

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