Anabolic Steroid For AIDS Therapy:
The Potential For Immune Benefits (November, 1995)
by Michael Mooney/Medibolics
There are seven anabolic steroid/AIDS studies that will be completed during the next year that should bear out a very important, but as yet unacknowledged benefit that many physicians have seen consistently with AIDS patients using anabolic steroid therapy. That is, specific anabolic steroid therapy can not only increase lean body mass, which is correlative with survival, (1) but can significantly benefit meaningful immune function, increasing, for instance, the CD8+ count, which some studies suggest is highly correlative with improved survival in HIV. (2) We assert that numerous studies in the literature with other pathologies suggest this immune benefit, and also state that it is important to differentiate that many people including medical doctors have confused cortical steroids, which are immuno-suppressive by nature, with anabolic steroids, which the following studies show can be immuno-potentiating. For instance, one study on uterine cervical cancer showed that nandrolone decanoate (Deca Durabolin) can "improve cell-mediated immune response and enhance the activity of macrophages", while it "reduced the incidence of post-operative infection", at the same time that it "did not influence tumor growth". (3) In another, nandrolone also "largely counteracted the immuno-suppressive effect" of radiotherapy. (4) In a study on rheumatoid arthritis, which is a pathology that exhibits some similarities to AIDS in regard to T-cell and cytokine kinetics, CD8+ T-cells increased and rheumatoid factor concentration decreased significantly. (5) Although little has been published yet on anabolic steroids and AIDS specifically, there are some important inferences like an AIDS Treatment News interview with one pioneering doctor who asserted that about 75% of his patients on anabolic steroids experienced significant increases in CD8+ t-cells, and 40% had some increase in CD4+ t-cells. (6) It should be noted that one reason the lean body mass (LBM) gained from the application of anabolic steroids is important, is that LBM is the body's primary reservoir of the amino acid l-glutamine, which is necessary for the production of t-cells. (7,8) So we see that having LBM itself can be important for proper t-cell function. Because doctors who are using this therapy are getting so much anecdotal evidence that anabolic steroids do benefit the immune system, at least seven controlled studies will be completed this year including studies by Gary Bucher, M.D., and Daniel Berger, M.D., of the Center For Special Immunology in Chicago, one by Marc Hellerstein, M.D., Ph.D., of U C Berkeley, and one by Kathleen Mulligan, Ph.D., of San Francisco General Hospital Department of Endocrinology. These studies will not only look at LBM, but some of them will meaure CD8+'s, as well as the more commonly noted CD4+'s. Don't be surprised to see a trend towards a rise in CD8+'s. This is the anecdotal information that we am getting rather consistently from the doctors who are working with this therapy. Wouldn't that be nice? An inexpensive, readily accessible non-toxic therapy that improves CD8+'s, and possibly survival?
1. Kotler DP, et al, "Magnitude of body-cell-mass depletion and the timing of death from wasting in AIDS." Am J Clin Nutr, 1989; 50: 444-7
2. Schlumpberger JM, et al, "CD8+ lymphocyte counts and the risk of death in advanced HIV infection" J of Family Practice 1994;38,1(Jan):33-38.
3. Ooshika, N., et al, "Effect of an anabolic steroid on cellular immunity and postoperative evaluation of uterine cervical cancer" Japanese J of Cancer and Chemotherapy 1984;11(10):2177-2184
4. Huys JV et al, "Effect of nandrolone decanoate on t-cell lymphocytes during radiotherapy." Clin Therapeutics 1979; 2 (5) :352-357)
5. Cutolo et al, "Androgen therapy in male patients with rheumatoid arthritis." Arthritis and Rheumatism 1991;Jan, 34(1): 1-5
6. Gilden D, "Weight loss: a role for growth hormone and anabolic steroids." AIDS Treatment News 1993 November 19, #187
7. Souba W, "Glutamine - Physiology, Biochemistry, and Nutrition" - Landis Publications
8. Anon. "Muscle provides glutamine to the immune system." Nutrition Reviews 48:390392, 1990