Nandrolone decanoate increases satellite cell numbers in the chicken pectoralis muscle

Mohammed Z. Allouh, Benjamin W.C. Rosser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The anabolic androgenic steroid nandrolone decanoate has minimal androgenic effects and, thus, is widely used to induce muscle hypertrophy in both patients and athletes. Although increases in satellite cell numbers and satellite cells giving rise to new myonuclei are associated with hypertrophy in many experimental models, the relationship between nandrolone and satellite cells is poorly understood. Here we test the hypothesis that nandrolone administration is associated with an increase in satellite cell numbers in muscle. Nandrolone was injected at weekly intervals for four weeks into the right pectoralis muscle of female white leghorn chickens aged 63 days post hatch. Age/size/sex matched control birds received saline injections. The contralateral pectoralis was excised for study from each control and nandrolone treated bird. An antibody against Pax7 and immunocytochemical techniques were used to identify satellite cells. Nandrolone significantly increased mean pectoralis mass by approximately 22%, and mean fiber diameter by about 24%. All satellite cell indices that were quantified increased significantly in chicken pectoralis with administration of nandrolone. Nandrolone injected birds had on average higher satellite cell frequencies (#SC nuclei/all nuclei within basal lamina), number of satellite cells per millimeter of fiber, and satellite cell concentrations (closer together). Myonuclei were further apart (less concentrated) in nandrolone injected muscle. However, an overall increase in myonuclear numbers was revealed by a significantly greater mean number of myonuclei per millimeter of fiber in nandrolone injected muscle. Our results suggest that satellite cells may be key cellular vectors for nandrolone induced muscle fiber hypertrophy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-140
Number of pages8
JournalHistology and Histopathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Hypertrophy
  • Muscle
  • Myonuclei
  • Nandrolone
  • Satellite cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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