How Different Anabolic Steroids Affect The Immune System And Vulnerability To Viral Infections

How Different Anabolic Steroids Can Affect Your Immune System And Vulnerability To Viral Infections

Both Testosterone and anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) adversely influence the immune system, affecting leucocyte growth or activity, and antibody and cytokine production, particularly when used at supraphysiological doses, mimicking a condition of secondary immunodeficiency [R, R].

Secondary immunodeficiency, much more common than primary immunodeficiency (that is to say those caused by genetic defects affecting the cells of the immune system), is characterized by various factors that affect a normal immune system, including infectious, iatrogenic, metabolic and environmental factors.

These immune deficiencies are manifested clinically with an increased frequency or unusual complications of common infections and occasionally with the onset of opportunistic pathogen infections.

Nandrolone And Anadrol Effects On The Immune System

Nandrolone Decanoate and Anadrol directly induce the production of inflammatory cytokines Interleukin 1 Beta (IL-1β) and Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha (TNF-α) in human peripheral blood leukocyte cultures [R].Nandrolone Decanoate and Anadrol affect the immune system directly by inducing the production of inflammatory cytokines Interleukin 1 Beta (IL-1β) and Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha (TNF-α) in human peripheral blood leukocyte cultures

Testosterone and DHEA had no direct cytokine inducing effect in the same model.

Nandrolone Decanoate also inhibits interferon production in NDV-infected mouse L-929 and human WISH cells.

Nandrolone Decanoate affects the immune system by inhibiting interferon production in NDV-infected mouse L-929 and human WISH cells

Winstrol And Trenbolone Effects On The Immune System

Winstrol and Trenbolone were found to be genotoxic and cytotoxic to human lymphocytes in a dose dependent manner [R].

Stanozolol and Trenbolone induced CAs in human lymphocytes

Testosterone, Teslac, Anavar And Winstrol Effects On The Immune System

To evaluate how anabolic steroids affect the immune system, five commercially available steroids with various types of structural differences were studied in a rodent model [R].

Animals were divided into five groups and treated with Testosterone (group 1), Testosterone Propionate (Group 2), the steroidal aromatase inhibitor Testolactone (Teslac) (Group 3), Anavar (Group 4), and Winstrol (Group 5).

Significant immunosuppression was observed with all groups.

However, by day 10, the Teslac, Anavar and Winstrol treated group showed immunostimulation and actually exceeded baseline immunity while the Testosterone treated groups maintained immunosuppressed.

Testosterone, Testosterone Propionate, Teslac, Anavar and Winstrol Effect On The Immune System Of Rats

To truly test the effects of endogenous androgens on the immune system a second experiment was then performed.

Ten animals maintained in a similar manner to the initial experiment were either treated intact or were castrated and then treated for 8 days, with Anavar (1.1 mg/kg/day), Testosterone (1.1 mg/kg/day) or Anavar combined with physiologic amounts of Testosterone (15 μg/day).

Anavar was selected because it has the greatest anabolic activity of all Testosterone analogues as compared to Testosterone (androgenic/anabolic activity = 1:13).

In the intact animals after 8 days of treatment with Anavar, serum Testosterone levels were measured by radioimmunoassay on tail vein blood.

Levels were either undetectable or very low, reflecting what would be significant HPTA suppression.

Immune function (DCH responses) measured at the same time revealed a 41% increase over baseline.

The Testosterone treated group experienced a 36% suppression of immune function.

Further treatment for 8 days with Anavar combined with physiologic amounts of Testosterone eliminated the immune system enhancement provided by Anavar monotherapy and returned the DCH responses to levels that were not significantly different from baseline.

Anavar, Testosterone and Anavar + Testosterone Effect On Immune Function

The results were different in the castrated animals.

Castration, resulted in an increase in immune (DCH) responses.

The mean observed change was 90% greater than intact (pre-castration) baseline.

That means that castrated rats had a 90% improvement above and beyond rats that weren’t castrated.

Eight day administration of Anavar to these animals had an immunodepressive effect returning the DCH response to baseline.

Eight day treatment with Anavar combined with physiologic doses of Testosterone produced an even greater suppression, 45% change from baseline.

Anavar, Testosterone and Anavar + Testosterone Effect On Immune Function In Castrated Rats

These observations indicate that immune alterations do occur with anabolic steroids which are immunosuppressive when the steroid nucleus is intact and immunostimulatory with nuclear alterations.

How Steroids Influence Immune Function

The hypothesis to explain the immune system responses to steroids is as follows.

Hypothesis Of How Anavar Affects The Immune System

Exogenous androgenic anabolic steroids produce two effects on the immune system: (A) a direct early effect on immune function which is suppressive and, (B) an indirect delayed stimulatory effect mediated through the negative feedback on the pituitary.

(B) results in inhibition of gonadal Testosterone through diminished LH release.

A decrease in the synthesis of Testosterone results in low serum Testosterone level and immune stimulation.

Castration, by abolishing the modulation of Testosterone secretion eliminates the effect of (B) but leaves (A) intact.

In summation, the more suppressive a steroid is the more it can indirectly enhance immune function, simply by suppressing the endogenous production of Testosterone and its metabolites.

However, anabolic steroids will also be genotoxic and cytotoxic to human lymphocytes in a dose dependent manner.

So, the only reason anabolic steroids can enhance immunity is by being more tissue selective than Testosterone and by shutting down the HPTA, not by inherently being protective.

They too will be inherently immunosuppressive, just to a lesser degree based on their tissue selectivity and magnitude of impact on endogenous androgen production suppression.

At the end of the day, the data all suggests that the lower your levels of steroids are in the body, the higher level your immune system will function at in parallel.

Are You Increasing Your Risk Of Viral Infection When You Are On Cycle?

In summary, the vast majority of studies suggest that steroid use decreases antibody formation, Natural Killer (NK) lymphocyte activity, T and B lymphocyte maturation and stimulation resulting in immunosuppression [R].

Supraphysiological doses of common anabolic steroids have been shown to directly influence the production of certain cytokines, altering immune function.

The results from both animal and human studies suggest that supraphysiological doses of AAS can negatively impact the immune system.

The takeaway from all of this is that with an easily spread virus infecting thousands of people throughout the world right now, it would be prudent to reduce your exogenous AAS use at least down to therapeutic levels to support immune function during this time where having increased vulnerability to viral infection is the most risky.

Regardless if you are young and believe you are invincible based on the mortality rate statistics showing that the elderly are the most at risk of being symptomatic or ending up in critical condition, you may still be increasing your chances of becoming an infected carrier who then transmits the virus to the elderly (including your parents or grandparents) as a result of self-induced immunosuppression.

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21 thoughts on “How Different Anabolic Steroids Can Affect Your Immune System And Vulnerability To Viral Infections”

  1. Dušan Ostojić

    Thank you! This was needed during pandemic.
    I am stopin T&T therapy (Tren and Test) and going Anavar only.

    1. That wasn’t really the takeaway even though I can understand why you would come to that conclusion. I would just stay on HRT levels of Test.

      1. Hi Derek do you think 20mg per day of anavar per day for 6 weeks would be good or bad for immune system or no anavar for 6 weeks? hypothetical question thanks

        1. Takeaways:

          – If you’re natural right now, stay natural until this is done.
          – If you’re on cycle, drop down to TRT.

          1. it seams to say anavar monotherapy increased immune function after 10days, so for some one whos not on hrt, could that mean a low dose short duration of anavar solo without a test base leave immune system intact?

        2. Bob, things are never simple when it comes to these things.
          Its not only about white blood cells production, yes – Anavar increased it and testosterone is immunosuppressive and decreased it, but also testosterone is strong anti inflammatory compound just like Chloroquine (DOCs use it agains COVID-19). Chloroquine operates by inhibiting white blood cells proliferation.
          So just dont go on cycle or if you are on it bring it down to TRT dose.

  2. Great Post as usual!
    BTW, the ‘Anabolic Doc’ made a video on the same topic;


    He basically said that while in animals suppressed immune systems from anabolics were observed, in his TRT practice he has not observed this in patients. Of course TRT dosages are much lower.

    I still think hGH, MK-677, Tesamorelin etc will boost immune function. Maybe a follow up video on this?

  3. If many Covid deaths are assumed to be caused from overly active immune systems (ie: cytokine storm) and aggressive inflammatory response, would not the inverse of your thesis be correct? That an otherwise healthy individual would be looking to limit extreme immune response, not support it?

  4. It would be interesting to see this coupled with studies on the effects of diminished immune response and actual incidents of illness. It would seem that despite what the science says here that this diminished response does not actually lead to an increase in illness. Bodybuilders would not be able to compete at the level they do if they were sick all of the time. Furthermore I don’t think there is any evidence to suggest that the pro athletes caught doping were missing more games do to illness than their teammates

  5. Hi Derek. My lymph nodes have swollen in response to testosterone in the past, and are currently doing so in response to trenbolone acetate at 260mg/week. Would you have any advice for me? I have read about NSAID”s mitigating the swelling through suppression of prostaglandin production, but that was on reddit.

  6. The immunosuppression isn’t necessarily a negative thing. I have severe Crohn’s disease and as a result I have had resection surgery of the intestines and weighed 90lbs as a 30-year-old male. I was on Remicade, a immunosuppressant drug for 4 years. I haven’t got COVID-19 (knock on wood). Speaking with a doctor, I was told my suppressed immune system may prevent a fatal response to COVID because it is not the virus which does all the damage, but also the bodies inflammatory response to fighting it. Being immunosuppressed decreases or limits inflammation, which may decrease the severity of COVID. However, side effects of Remicade are liver damage, kidney damage, and even death. I never liked these side effects nor the high cost of the medication (in the hundreds to thousands of dollars range even with insurance). I continued to search for alternative treatment and found Germany has produced three papers of the positive effects of using anabolic steroids to treat IBD and autoimmune diseases spanning 20 years of research. A common factor between IBD and autoimmune disease in men and women is low testosterone/hormones. After a terrible flare (active Crohn’s) resulting from failing a generic version of Remicade I was forced to switch to because of the control insurance companies have over the medical field and dropping from 170lbs to 120lbs from May to November 2021, which resulted in muscle wasting, I have started TRT. So far, the experience is positive. However, I was unaware of the immunosuppression on steroids. This makes sense why they would benefit someone with an autoimmune disease. They would restore hormone/testosterone levels while also suppressing the body’s chronic inflammation (if humans respond to steroids in the same manner as the mice in the study). I began watching your YouTube channel in order to educate myself to limit the negative effects of steroids. So, thank you for the research.

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