Effects of anabolic androgenic steroids and social subjugation on behavior and neurochemistry in male rats

Krystle A. Frahm, Augustus R. Lumia, Elizabeth Fernandez, Randy Strong, James L. Roberts, Marilyn Y. McGinnis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Early abuse and anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) both increase aggression. We assessed the behavioral and neurochemical consequences of AAS, alone or in combination with social subjugation (SS), an animal model of child abuse. On P26, gonadally intact male rats began SS consisting of daily pairings with an adult male for 2 weeks followed by daily injections of the AAS, testosterone on P40. As adults, males were tested for sexual and aggressive behaviors towards females in various hormonal conditions and inter-male aggression in a neutral setting using home or opponent bedding. Neurotransmitter levels were assessed using HPLC. Results showed that AAS males displayed significantly more mounts toward sexually receptive, vaginally obstructed females (OBS) and displayed significantly more threats towards ovariectomized females. SS males mounted OBS females significantly less and were not aggressive toward females. The role of olfactory cues in a neutral setting did not affect aggression regardless of treatment. AAS significantly increased brainstem DOPAC and NE. SS decreased 5HIAA, DA, DOPAC, and NE in brainstem. 5HIAA was significantly increased in the prefrontal cortex of all experimental groups. We conclude that AAS and SS differentially affect behavior towards females as well as neurotransmitter levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-422
Number of pages7
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Aggression
  • HPLC
  • Male sex behavior
  • Puberty
  • Tail pinch
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Biochemistry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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