The immediate effects of AAS in the brain are mediated by their binding to androgen (male sex hormone) and estrogen (female sex hormone) receptors on the surface of a cell. This AAS–receptor complex can then shuttle into the cell nucleus to influence patterns of gene expression. Because of this, the acute effects of AAS in the brain are substantially different from those of other drugs of abuse. The most important difference is that AAS are not euphorigenic, meaning they do not trigger rapid increases in the neurotransmitter dopamine , which is responsible for the “high” that often drives substance abuse behaviors. However, long-term use of AAS can eventually have an impact on some of the same brain pathways and chemicals—such as dopamine, serotonin, and opioid systems—that are affected by other drugs of abuse. Considering the combined effect of their complex direct and indirect actions, it is not surprising that AAS can affect mood and behavior in significant ways.
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Some athletes and bodybuilders use so-called "dietary supplements" that are legal, unregulated substances in the United States. These substances are not subject to the same testing for safety and effectiveness as all over-the-counter and prescription medications in the . Most of their effects are believed to be hugely overstated by their marketers, but no one really knows what the effects might be. In addition, no one really knows what their dangers might be. On of these supplements is called Andro. It is a legal substance that the body converts into testosterone, a regulated steroid. How efficiently this converted testosterone might be used is unknown. Scientists have not been able to prove that Andro creates desirable effects. In addition, it may be as harmful as other types of testosterone and synthetic testosterone.