Anabolic steroid effects on immune function (Part 1)

By bigdelt69 from elite.

In order to understand how AAS effect the immune system, you must first understand how the immune system works. Although I think I could write an entire book on this subject, I will just stick to the basics.

The organs of the immune system are stationed throughout the body. They are generally referred to as lymphoid organs because that are concerned with the growth, development, and deployment or lymphocytes, the white cells that are the base of the immune system. These organs include bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes, and spleen.

Immune cells, like all other cells, are produced in the bone marrow. There are two main classes of immune cells or lymphocytes as they are called. These are known as T cells and B cells. T cells mature in an organ know as the thymus. Most T and B cells congregate in the various immune organs, while other travel around in the blood stream.

The lymph nodes house both T and B cells. These cells work together though different mechanisms. They are very dependent on each other. By effecting one group of cells, you throw off the entire function of the immune responce. Now a little bit about B cells and T cells.

B cells work chiefly by secreting soluble substances called antibodies into the bodies fluids or humors. This is known as humoral immunity. Antibodies typically interact with circulating antigens such as bacteria and toxic molecules, but are unable to penetrate living cells. T cells interact directly with their targets, attacking body cells that have been commandeered by viruses.
There are different subsets of T cells which carry out various functions.

Each B cell is programmed to make one specific antibody. When a B cell manufactures millions of identical antibody molecules and pures them into the bloodstream. A given antibody matches a given antigen much as a key matches a lock. These antibodies indentify the antigen and mark it for destruction. Antibodies can work in several ways, depending on the nature of the antigen.

T cells contribute to the immune defenses in two major ways. Regulatory T cells do one thing and Cytotoxic T cells do another. Regulatory T cells are vital to orchestrating the elaborate system.
Cytotoxic T cells on the other hand directly attack body cells that are infected. T cells work directly by secreting substances known as lymphokines. Lymphokines call into play many other cells and substances, including the elements of the inflammmatory responce.

Once you under stand why T cells and B cells are dependent on each other, it is easier to understand how AAS effects this partnership. I will discuss this in the next thread. I do suggest that everyone do some research and understand this more specifically. I basiclly just summerized how the immune system functions.

(Part 2)

Although I could not find any specific studies regarding how AAS effects immune function, I was able to piece together several articles and come up with a general idea of how this works.

As I stated in the previous thread (part 1) the immune system has two basic types of defense cells. The B cells which make up the Humoral immunity, and T cells that make up the cell immunity.

First the T cells are formed in the thymus. These T cells work directly by attacking the invading virus. Explaining all the actions of T cells would take forever to do. If you want to do more, there are loads of info on this available at other sites. Most AAS are known to suppress Cellular immunity, although they stimulate humoral immunity.

What first brought this to my attention were the vast number of articles relating to using AAS to treat autoimmune diseases. Most autoimmune diseases are caused by various T cells attacking your own body.

Small doses of winstrol, and deca, have been shown to have no effect on the cellular immunity, but still improves humoral immunity. It is also know that many AAS including deca have been shown to be antiinflammatory. Although I believe that deca accomplishes this through a different function as compared to the rest. This is greatly because cellular immunity is what causes inflammation.