Understanding the science behind Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators requires a brief history of the role that androgens play in muscle building. In this article, you’ll find out about androgens and what androgen therapy aims to do.
Androgen therapy has been around for ages, since the late 19th century. Edouard Brown-Sequard extracted his own testicle juice and administered it to himself… He reported heightened vigor and capacity for work and news fast spread throughout researcher networks. Since then, every European and North American scientist wanted to isolate this magic molecule. Then, in 1935, testosterone was first isolated – we’ve been fascinated by growth hormones and their benefits to the human body.
Androgens are the male hormones that are responsible for influencing the rate of growth and development. When children produce androgens this begins to trigger the development of male sexual traits, often during puberty. In adults, androgen levels are related to muscle mass, sex drive and aggressiveness. Testosterone is the most commonly known androgen and is directly involved in regulating muscle mass and the body’s response to exercise.
What is an androgen receptor?
Androgen receptors are one of the four members of the nuclear receptor superfamily. Belonging to the largest class of DNA binding transcription factors, androgen receptors are comprised of 48 members with crucial and regulatory functions in vertebrates and non-vertebrates. Individually and in combination, these four receptors play crucial roles in fundamental aspects of physiology such as metabolism, immune function, stress response, electrolyte homoeostasis as well as muscle and bone development.
What role do androgens play in building muscle?
Androgens promote the enlargement of multiple skeletal muscle cells by conveying hormonal signals – one of these cell types is known as a myoblast. The fusion of myoblasts creates muscle fibers (myotubes) through a process known as myogenesis. This should not be confused with ‘anabolism’ or protein synthesis which is the process of complex molecules being synthesized from simpler ones. Higher androgen levels lead to an increased expression of androgen receptors causing an increase in muscle building properties.
The maintenance of skeletal muscle mass is dictated by the balance between the rates of protein synthesis and protein degradation.
During myogenesis, primary muscle fibers form from primary myoblasts and tend to develop into slow muscle fibers. Secondary muscle fibers then form around the primary fibers which are formed from secondary myoblasts and usually develop into fast muscle fibers.
During exercise, muscles are broken down through a process known as catabolism and then rebuilt through the process of anabolism. Protein synthesis is a key part of muscle building and is the reason protein supplementation is encouraged after intense exercise.
What determines the rate of muscle building?
Protein does not create new muscle cells, protein synthesis creates a state of hypertrophy (anabolism) where muscle cells increase in size causing a more vascular look. For muscle growth to occur: the muscle must have exercise-induced micro-injury, androgens must be present and sufficient protein intake.
Muscle building occurs when the rate of protein synthesis outweighs degradation. The rate of protein synthesis is directly influenced by several factors, including hormones and pathway signaling. SARMs improve signaling pathways and increase the number of androgens produced, improving the rate of protein synthesis substantially.
Anabolism is determined by the cellular protein synthetic rate which can be determined by two factors, translational efficiency and translational capacity. Translational efficiency is defined as protein synthesis per unit amount of RNA, whereas translational capacity is defined as the total ribosomal content per unit tissue. Increasing the efficiency can be achieved by improving the signaling pathways.
Skeletal muscle begins to diminish when the rate of protein degradation exceeds the rate of synthesis. Protein degradation can occur for a number of reasons, the most common reason is not using the muscle, and other factors play a role such as myostatin levels, hormones, stress, signaling pathways and nutrient availability. A number of therapeutic options are available, including androgen therapy.
Limitations of the body
Building muscle after 60 years of age can be difficult due to the natural decrease in testosterone. The best way to gain muscle is to maintain sufficient levels of training from an early age. Muscle building workouts are great but without proper diet or correct form, it may be a waste of time.
Keeping the diet varied as you age is vital for muscle building. Certain muscle building foods such as lean meats must be eaten with sufficient fiber. Fiber must be introduced to the body slowly and over a long period of time. A sudden intake of fiber can leave you with painful stomach cramps.
The best way to build muscle mass remains proper nutrition and gradually increasing training. The only reason to consider introducing artificial androgen boosting methods is when your body may lack testosterone. Using performance enhancing drugs may be an easy way to build muscle, however, the difficulty of retention can be frustrating for most users.
What is androgen therapy?
Androgen receptors play a critical role in the function of several organs, skeletal muscle and bone making them a desirable therapeutic target. SARMs are an androgen supplement similar in effect to androgenic steroids, they bind to the androgen receptor and exhibit highly effective muscle and bone building activity.
Mutations of these receptors can occur resulting in androgen deficiency. These mutations can occur due to prostate cancer and other diseases. Therapeutic compounds such as SARMs have been developed to encourage muscle growth during states of hyper-atrophy.
Androgen therapy is primarily used for male hypogonadism (diminished functional activity of the gonads), in attempts to reverse protein loss after trauma, surgery or prolonged immobilization. SARMs act as an androgen receptor agonist which means it’s a substance which binds to the receptor and initiates a physiological response, they then control the activity of the receptor by mediating the response to androgens.