Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AASs) can be used to treat both hormonal diseases and other pathologies characterized by muscle loss (aging, cancer, and AIDS). Even if the adverse effects related to the misuse of AASs have been well studied in different systems and apparatuses, knowledge about brain damage is poor.

In this scenario, this experimental study aimed to analyze the role of several microRNAs (miRNAs) in brain damage after AAS misuse, to better comprehend the underlying mechanisms. The research hypothesis at the base of this experimental study is that the chronic use of AASs may be associated to brain damage with a dysregulation of these miRNAs. Moreover, miRNA expression values were compared among three different groups, “AAS” group, “Cocaine” group and “Aging” group, in order to define if AAS brain damage can be compared with the brain impairment linked to aging and/or cocaine assumption.

This experimental study revealed that the tested miRNAs (hsa-miR-21-5p, hsa-miR-34a-5p, hsa-miR-124-5p, hsa-miR-132-3p, and hsa-miR-144-3p) were overexpressed in all enrolled groups. In the light of the presented results, the identification of specific circulating and/or tissue biomarkers is challenging for the scientific community. Further studies with larger samples are needed to confirm these interesting findings.