Potentially harmful advantage to athletes: a putative connection between UGT2B17 gene deletion polymorphism and renal disorders with prolonged use of anabolic androgenic steroids
1 School of Pharmacy and Chemistry, Kingston University, London, UK
2 School of Life Sciences, Kingston University, London, UK
3 Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, Semmelweis University of Medicine, Budapest IX, Tüzoltó utca 58, H-1450, Hungary
Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2010, 5:7 doi:10.1186/1747-597X-5-7Published: 29 April 2010
Background and objective
With prolonged use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS), occasional incidents of renal disorders have been observed. Independently, it has also been established that there are considerable inter-individual and inter-ethnic differences, in particular with reference to the uridine diphosphate-glucuronosyltransferase 2B17 (UGT2B17) gene, in metabolising these compounds. This report postulates the association of deletion polymorphism in the UGT2B17 gene with the occurrence of renal disorders on chronic exposure to AAS.
Presentation of the hypothesis
The major deactivation and elimination pathway of AASs is through glucuronide conjugation, chiefly catalyzed by the UGT2B17 enzyme, followed by excretion in urine. Excretion of steroids is affected in individuals with a deletion mutation in the UGT2B17 gene. We hypothesize that UGT2B17 deficient individuals are more vulnerable to developing renal disorders with prolonged use of AAS owing to increases in body mass index and possible direct toxic effects of steroids on the kidneys. Elevated serum levels of biologically active steroids due to inadequate elimination can lead to prolonged muscle build up. An increase in body mass index may cause renal injuries due to sustained elevated glomerular pressure and flow rate.
Testing the hypothesis
In the absence of controlled clinical trials in humans, observational studies can be carried out. Real time PCR with allelic discrimination should be employed to examine the prevalence of different UGT2B17 genotypes in patients with impaired renal function and AAS abuse. In individuals with the UGT2B17 deletion polymorphism, blood tests, biofluid analyses, urinalysis, and hair analyses following the administration of an anabolic steroid can be used to determine the fate of the substance once in the body.
Implications of the hypothesis
If the hypothesis is upheld, anabolic steroid users with a deletion mutation in the UGT2B17 gene may be exposed to an increased risk of developing renal disorders. In the current detecting - sanctioning anti-doping system, athletes motivated by the potential to evade detection owing to their unique genetic make-up could subject themselves to a serious health consequence. More research on AAS metabolism in the presence of UGT2B17 gene deletion is required. Benefit - harm evaluations in therapeutic use of anabolic steroids should also consider this potential link between UGT2B17 gene deletion polymorphism and renal disorders.