Astrid Bjørnebekk

Astrid Bjørnebekk
Oslo University Hospital · Department of Mental Health and Addiction

PhD

About

45
Publications
10,226
Reads
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1,318
Citations
Introduction
Current project: "Long-term anabolic steroid use: effects on brain morphology, cognitive function and emotional processing". The present project is designed to provide novel information about the consequences of long-term AAS use on brain and behavior. We will do so by applying a combination of multiple advanced imaging parameters in addition to mapping psychopathology, cognitive functioning and aspects of emotional processing in a large sample of AAS users and a matched control group.
Additional affiliations
November 2015 - May 2020
Oslo University Hospital
Position
  • Researcher
April 2009 - May 2013
University of Oslo
Position
  • PostDoc Position
January 2001 - June 2007
Karolinska Institutet
Position
  • PhD Student
Description
  • Investigated the antidepressant potential of running and SSRI in an animal model of depression. In particular we studied hippocampal plasticity mechanisms and key receptors and neuropeptides in the mesolimbic dopamine system.

Publications

Publications (45)
Article
Full-text available
Background: Prolonged high-dose anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) use has been associated with psychiatric symptoms and cognitive deficits, yet we have almost no knowledge of the long-term consequences of AAS use on the brain. The purpose of this study is to investigate the association between long-term AAS exposure and brain morphometry, includin...
Article
Advances in neuroimaging techniques have recently provided glimpse into the neurobiology of complex traits of human personality. Whereas some intriguing findings have connected aspects of personality to variations in brain morphology, the relations are complex and our current understanding is incomplete. Therefore, we aimed to provide a comprehensi...
Article
Full-text available
Emotional, cognitive, and behavioral response patterns underlying temperament and personality are established early and remain stable from childhood. Anxiety-related traits are associated with psychiatric disease and represent predisposing factors for various affective disorders, including depression and anxiety. Emotional processing relies on the...
Article
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A common trait of antidepressant drugs, electroconvulsive treatment and physical exercise is that they relieve depression and up-regulate neurotrophic factors as well as cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the hippocampus. In order to identify possible biological underpinnings of depression and the antidepressant effect of running, we analysed c...
Article
Full-text available
High-doses of anabolic–androgenic steroids (AAS) is efficient for building muscle mass, but pose a risk of cardiovascular side effects. Little is known of the effect of AAS on vasculature, but previous findings suggest unfavorable alterations in vessel walls and vasoreactivity. Here, long-term effect of AAS on vascular function and morphology were...
Article
Full-text available
Use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) is associated with adverse health effects. The factors that predispose to AAS use among athletes are poorly understood, but attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is known to occur among athletes more often than in the general population, is associated with risk behaviors, including substanc...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) dependence has adverse psychological and health consequences, and may be driven in part by muscle dysmorphia. This study aims to identify possible targets for clinical care, and further understanding of symptom structures using network analyses of AAS dependence and muscle dysmorphia symptoms in male AA...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) comprise testosterone and synthetic derivatives, primarily used in the bodybuilding and fitness communities to increase lean muscle mass. However, AAS can lead to several somatic and psychiatric side-effects. As a result of low perceived prevalence and stigma among female users, the relationship betwee...
Preprint
Background: Anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) use causes drastic changes in hormonal milieu and is associated with adverse medical, psychological, and cognitive effects. Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a member of the neurotrophin family of growth factors plays a critical role in neuroplasticity, with implications for cognitive function a...
Article
Introduction Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS), including testosterone and synthetic derivatives, are typically used to increase muscle mass. Many users develop a dependence on these substances, contributing to worsened physical and mental health outcomes. Aspects of personality and executive dysfunction may represent underlying vulnerabilities fo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS), including testosterone and synthetic derivatives, are typically used to increase muscle mass. Many users develop a dependence on these substances, contributing to worsened physical and mental health outcomes. Aspects of personality and executive dysfunction may represent underlying vulnerabilities for...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to examine the recent evidence regarding the effects of exogenous androgens on the brain. Understanding these effects is of high importance, as the consequences of androgens on the reproductive and endocrine system are well documented, while fewer studies have focused on the neural and cerebral cons...
Article
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Concurrent use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) and psychoactive substances (illicit drugs and alcohol) is found common in studies among men and involves a higher risk of adverse events than AAS use alone. However, women who use AAS represent an understudied group, and little is known about their pattern of psychoactive substance use and possi...
Article
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Background Anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) use is associated with a wide range of adverse physical, psychological and social effects. While some experience few side effects, others might experience severe consequences. Aggression and violence are among the often-cited side effects associated with high-dose AAS use; however, most of the knowledge...
Article
Full-text available
Background High-dose long-term use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) may cause a range of adverse effects, including brain and cognitive abnormalities. We performed age prediction based on brain scans to test whether prolonged AAS use is associated with accentuated brain aging. Methods T1-weighted MRI (3D MPRAGE) scans were obtained from male...
Article
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RationaleAnabolic androgenic steroids are used to improve physical performance or increase lean muscle mass. About one-third of users develop a dependency syndrome, which is characterized by elevated rates of psychopathology, cognitive impairments, and aggressive and antisocial behaviors. The mechanisms behind these intra- and interpersonal problem...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background High-dose long-term use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) may bring a range of health consequences, including brain and cognitive abnormalities. We performed age prediction based on brain scans to test whether prolonged AAS use is associated with accentuated brain aging. Methods T1-weighted brain MRI data were obtained from male weig...
Article
Full-text available
Background Female users of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are at risk of developing masculinizing side effects. This study explores how the development of masculinizing effects has been experienced and processed by women with current or previous AAS use. Methods Individual, semi-structured interviews were undertaken among 16 current or previou...
Article
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Arterial spin labeling (ASL) has undergone significant development since its inception, with a focus on improving standardization and reproducibility of its acquisition and quantification. In a community-wide effort towards robust and reproducible clinical ASL image processing, we developed the software package ExploreASL, allowing standardized ana...
Article
Full-text available
Background Anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) use is associated with serious mental and physical health problems. Evidence indicates that AAS use among people who use psychoactive substances is higher than in the general population. This study aims to estimate lifetime AAS use among patients in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, compare charact...
Article
Background: Anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) dependence is associated with a high prevalence of intra- and interpersonal problems, hence it is central to identify cognitive factors related to the development and maintenance of dependence. Methods: The study explores executive functions (EFs) in a sample of 174 male weightlifters, divided into t...
Preprint
Full-text available
Arterial spin labeling (ASL) has undergone significant development since its inception, with a focus on improving standardization and reproducibility of its acquisition and quantification. In a community-wide effort towards robust and reproducible clinical ASL image processing, we developed the software package ExploreASL, allowing standardized ana...
Article
Background Illicit use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) is widespread and has adverse psychological and cardiovascular effects. Few well-powered studies have explored the effect of long-term AAS-use on left ventricular systolic function. Purpose To explore the relationship between long-term use of AAS and left ventricular mass and systolic fu...
Article
Full-text available
Rationale Illicit use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) has grown into a serious public health concern throughout the Western World. AAS use is associated with adverse medical, psychological, and social consequences. Around 30% of AAS users develop a dependence syndrome with sustained use despite adverse side effects. AAS dependence is associat...
Article
Objective: To test for associations between long-term anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) use and cognitive functioning, and establish a candidate neuronal basis by assessing the associations between cognitive performance and brain morphology both in users and nonusers. Method: Eighty four previous or current AAS-users and 69 non-AAS-using male we...
Article
Full-text available
Aim To identify differences in brain morphology between dependent and non‐dependent male anabolic‐androgenic steroid (AAS) users. Design Cross‐sectional data from a longitudinal study on male weightlifters. Setting Oslo University Hospital, Norway. Participants 81 AAS users were divided into two groups; AAS‐dependent (n=43) and AAS‐non‐dependent...
Article
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Cognitive and socioemotional functioning at 4½ years of age were examined in children born to mothers with substance‐abuse problems (n = 22) recruited from residential treatment institutions while pregnant, and then compared to children born to mothers with mental health problems (n = 18) and children from a low‐risk group (n = 26). No significant...
Article
Full-text available
Sustained anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) use has adverse behavioral consequences, including aggression, violence and impulsivity. Candidate mechanisms include disruptions of brain networks with high concentrations of androgen receptors and critically involved in emotional and cognitive regulation. Here, we tested the effects of AAS on resting-st...
Article
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Background As far as we are aware, no previous systematic review and synthesis of the qualitative/descriptive literature on polypharmacy in anabolic-androgenic steroid(s) (AAS) users has been published. Method We systematically reviewed and synthesized qualitative/descriptive literature gathered from searches in electronic databases and by inspect...
Article
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In a prospective longitudinal study, we investigated the outcomes of children born to mothers clinically referred for mental health problems during pregnancy (risk group, n = 17) relative to a control group (n = 31). Child cognitive functioning, and for subgroups (n = 10 + 17), brain morphometry as derived from Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), was...
Article
Full-text available
People show consistent differences in their cognitive and emotional responses to environmental cues, manifesting, for example, as variability in social reward processing and novelty-seeking behavior. However, the neurobiological foundation of human temperament and personality is poorly understood. A likely hypothesis is that personality traits rely...
Article
Full-text available
Mapping the cerebral structural correlates of age-related cognitive decline is a growing area of research. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between healthy elderly's perceived memory functioning in daily life, neuropsychological test performance on a standardized test on verbal memory, and cortical thickness and subc...
Article
Full-text available
The Perspective by Thompson, Levitt and Stanwood (Prenatal exposure to drugs: effects on brain development and implications for policy and education. Nature Rev. Neurosci. 10, 303–312 (2009)
Article
One hypothesis of depression is that it is caused by reduced neuronal plasticity including hippocampal neurogenesis. In this study, we compared the effects of three long-term antidepressant treatments: escitalopram, voluntary running, and their combination on hippocampal cell proliferation, NPY and the NPY-Y1 receptor mRNAs, targets assumed to be i...
Article
Full-text available
Despite limited understanding of the pathophysiology of depression and the underlying mechanisms mediating antidepressant effects, there are several efficient treatments. The anhedonia symptoms of depression are characterized by decreased motivation and drive and imply possible malfunctioning of the mesolimbic dopamine system, whereas cognitive def...
Article
Genetic background influences the responsiveness to stress and plays a crucial role in the pathophysiology of depression. In an animal model of depression, Flinders Sensitive Line rats, and Sprague Dawley controls we analyzed if 7 weeks of social isolation of adult animals affect the number of newly proliferated cells in the dentate gyrus or mRNAs...
Article
Natural behaviors such as eating, drinking, reproduction and exercise activate brain reward pathways and consequently the individual engages in these behaviors to receive the reward. However, drugs of abuse are even more potent in activating the reward pathways. Rewarding behaviors and addictive drugs also affect other parts of the brain not direct...
Article
Social isolation has profound effects on animal behavior and dopamine systems. We investigated the effect of social isolation on the dopamine receptor and neuropeptide mRNAs in the brain reward system in an animal model of depression, the Flinders Sensitive Line rats and Sprague-Dawley controls. We demonstrate that socially isolated but not group h...
Article
Full-text available
Physical activity has documented beneficial effect in treatment of depression. Recently, we found an antidepressant-like effect of running in an animal model of depression, the Flinders Sensitive Line (FSL) and demonstrated that it was associated with increased hippocampal cell proliferation. In this study, we analyzed levels of mRNAs encoding the...

Projects

Projects (2)
Project
The overarching research goal is to increase the knowledge about AAS-related health risks and improve treatment of the patient group who struggle to cease AAS use. The primary aim is to explore whether off-label use of endocrine therapy is safe, and more effective than AAS-cessation without therapy on AAS-withdrawal symptoms and if it can be recommended as therapy during AAS-cessation. The secondary aims are to detect health risks during AAS use in the intervention group and assess whether these physical and mental health risks for the intervention group are changed 12 months after cessation.
Project
To investigate brain, behavioral and psychological effects associated with long-term anabolic-androgenic steroid use. Through many years we have collected numerous data on a large sample of anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) users, and non-using weightlifters including repeated brain scanning, psychiatric evaluation, cognitive and social cognitive, cardiac, vascular and hormonal data. In the project we explore the relationship between these different types of health data trying to provide a better understanding of the effects of high doses of AAS affects brain health. A particular focus is placed on factos associated with the development of dependence following use of AAS.