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A prohormone refers to a committed intra-glandular precursor of a hormone, usually having minimal hormonal effect by itself. The term has been used in medical science since the middle of the 20th century. Though not hormones themselves, prohormones amplify the effects of existing hormones. Examples of natural, human prohormones include proinsulin and pro-opiomelanocortin.
Common types of prohormones prior to 2004 anabolic control act
Converts to: testosterone via 17bHSD
Converts to: testosterone via 3bHSD
Converts to: nortestosterone (also called nandrolone) via 17bHSD
Converts to: nortestosterone vis 3bHSD
Converts to: 1-testosterone, a 5-alpha reduced 1-ene steroid; 1-testosterone is better (although rarely) described as dihydroboldenone, the 5-alpha reduced version of the naturally occurring steroid boldenone
1,4-androstadienedione (1,4 AD)
Converts to: boldenone
For peptide hormones, the conversion process from prohormone to hormone typically occurs after export to the endoplasmic reticulum and often requires multiple processing enzymes. For example, proinsulin is processed by PC 1/2, PC 3, and carboxypeptidase E to afford insulin. Proamylin, which is cosecreted with proinsulin, requires the above three factors and an amidating monoxygenase. Though commonly misdescribed as such, Vitamin D3 is not an example of a prohormone or a hormone. The word prohormones has taken on a new sense due to the presence of specific oral medications designed for athletes to affect hormone levels. For small molecule hormones, the conversion is often one step, and is often used to regulate hormone levels.
Prohormones of testosterone and other androgenic steroids
A typical prohormone is intended to be a precursor of an anabolic steroid like testosterone, which is taken in order to boost the body’s available hormone supply. These precursors are intended to be converted to full, active hormones via an enzymatic process that occurs during metabolism, typically resulting in the addition of whichever atoms happen to be missing from the chemical structure of the compound.
Prohormones are used mainly by athletes looking to increase size, strength, endurance, reduce recovery time or add lean body mass. They are most often used for increasing muscle mass or reducing body fat levels. Life extension groups are also increasingly using prohormones as a means of hormone replacement therapy, as an alternative to prescription drug use. Additionally there is a movement to use prohormones of androgens to help offset the damaging effects of environmental estrogens on the body. Chemical endocrine disruptor agents like bisphenol A are becoming recognized as having the ability to skew the androgen to estrogen ratio. This skewed ratio can have many adverse effects on men, including sexual performance, impotence and other testosterone dependent body functions.
The use of prohormones has become popular among bodybuilders, since the effects can be similar (though normally much less drastic) to those achieved through the use of synthetic anabolic steroids, including gains in muscular strength and hypertrophy. There are currently many companies manufacturing prohormone products for this purpose.
Prohormones have the same side effects as anabolic steroids, and are dependent upon the user as to which side effects one might experience. Some side effects are acne, hair loss, breast tissue enlargement, and prostate swelling however these are specific to each type of prohormone and reports of side effects are usually minimal.
The potential for these side effects does exist, but it can be reduced if one uses proper precautionary measures such as post cycle therapy (PCT). Generally, if a person is genetically predisposed to a side effect it will occur (i.e.: if someone has a history of male pattern baldness in the family, it could be assumed that this could be a side effect experienced if prohormones are used)
On October 22, 2004, President Bush signed into law the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 (118 Stat. 1661). The bill was written to become effective in 90 days, which was January 20, 2005. This legislation places both anabolic steroids and some prohormones on a list of controlled substances (a new type of "regulatory control").Statutory definition of Anabolic steroids: “The term 'anabolic steroid' means any drug or hormonal substance, chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than estrogens, progestins, corticosteroids and dehydroepiandrosterone)”. The Act also lists substances called prohormones, qualifying them as anabolic steroids, yet these substances were mainly included in the list due to the generalization of the definition of anabolic steroids which makes it currently impossible to synthesize any further substances linked with testosterone for the needs of athlete supplementation.
Prohormones added to the list of schedule III anabolic steroids
The 108th Congress amended the Controlled Substances Act to include anabolic steroids and to add in information about steroids and steroid precursors. This amendment is sometimes called the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004. The first thing this amendment did was insert a definition of anabolic steroids as follows: “The term ‘anabolic steroid’ means any drug or hormonal substance, chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than estrogens, progestins, corticosteroids and dehydroepiandrosterone).” Apart from the definition, the document enumerates the presently known prohormones:
Androstanediol (3β,17β-dihydroxy-5α-androstane and 3α,17β-dihydroxy-5α-androstane)
Please note that this list contains examples and it is not a closed list - any other compound, which affects testosterone, according to the definition is an anabolic steroid under U.S. law.
Know more about Prohormones at Halo-Plex Xtreme
Regulation in the United States and Europe
Following the introduction of the Anabolic Steroid Control Act, labeling products derived from plant extracts with the help of chemical symbols of organic substances found in these plants or creating names for these substances which referred to prohibited anabolic substances became a popular marketing practice employed by American manufacturers. No analogical act targeting athlete supplementation is in force in the European Union; however each country has its own regulations concerning substances with medicinal properties. Due to the above, one can come in contact with the sale of supplements with names identical to or resembling those questioned by the RDA in the United States (S-DROL, HALODROL, etc.). Laboratory controls indicate that products which declare to include prohormones, prohibited in the USA, in fact contain “classic” anabolic steroids of the previous generation