The aim of this study was to evaluate the behavioral effects of chronic (six weeks) nandrolone decanoate (ND, 20 mg/kg, s.c, weekly in single dose) administration (in order to mimic heavy human abuse), and exercise (swimming protocol of 60 minutes a day, five days in a row/two days break), applied alone and simultaneously with ND, in male rats (n = 40). Also, we evaluated the effects of those protocols on hippocampal parvalbumin (PV) content and the possible connection between the alterations in certain parts of hippocampal GABAergic system and behavioral patterns. Both ND and exercise protocols induced increase in testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and estradiol blood levels. Our results confirmed anxiogenic effects of ND observed in open field (OF) test (decrease in the locomotor activity, as well as in frequency and cumulative duration in the centre zone) and in elevated plus maze (EPM) test (decrease in frequency and cumulative duration in open arms, and total exploratory activity), that were accompanied with a mild decrease in the number of PV interneurons in hippocampus. Chronic exercise protocol induced significant increase in hippocampal PV neurons (dentate gyrus and CA1 region), followed by anxiolytic-like behavioral changes, observed in both OF and EPM (increase in all estimated parameters), and in evoked beam-walking test (increase in time to cross the beam), compared to ND treated animals. The applied dose of ND was sufficient to attenuate beneficial effects of exercise in rats by means of decreased exercise-induced anxiolytic effect, as well as to reverse exercise-induced augmentation in number of PV immunoreactive neurons in hippocampus. Our results implicate the possibility that alterations in hippocampal PV interneurons (i.e. GABAergic system) may be involved in modulation of anxiety level induced by ND abuse and/or extended exercise protocols.
Selakovic, D., Joksimovic, J., Zaletel, I., Puskas, N., Matovic, M., & Rosic, G. (2017). The opposite effects of nandrolone decanoate and exercise on anxiety levels in rats may involve alterations in hippocampal parvalbumin-positive interneurons. PLoS ONE, 12(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189595