A look at the boogeyman of receptor downgrade
By: Anthony Roberts
One of the most peculiar things about the steroid community, and in particular, the online steroid community, is the ongoing level of misinformation about the androgen receptor and the boogeyman of receptor downgrade. Because most people have experienced receptor downgrade in other forms, it’s a topic that we are somewhat familiar with (i.e. you drink so much coffee that caffeine doesn’t hit you as hard anymore, or you develop a tolerance for alcohol, etc).
There seems to be a general consensus that the best, most productive cycle is often the first. After that, we’re told, our “receptors downgrade”. Presumably this means they do less, either because they decrease in number, sensitivity, or activity. Of course, this is an oversimplification, but more importantly, is inaccurate at best. The problem seems to relate to how the terms are discussed, as if we have X number of receptors and their sensitivity is a sole determinant of how we obtain muscle growth (or whatever) from the use of anabolic steroids. In truth, receptors are in a constant state of flux, with regards to their number and sensitivity. When we engage in resistance training, we increase the number and sensitivity of our androgen receptors. When we subsist on a hypocaloric diet, once again, we are influencing the status of our androgen receptors. And yes, when we use anabolic steroids, we are again engaging in an activity that affects our androgen receptors. But not the way you think.
The androgen receptor is (obviously) a receptor that gets activated by androgens (testosterone, etc). When the receptor is paired with a ligand (in this case, an androgen), they form a homodimer and (skipping a few steps) initiate muscle growth (or fat loss, or whatever). [We’re not going to talk about how cortical steroids can also form a heterodimer with the androgen receptor, as it’s a bit beyond the present discussion, but I’ll just throw that into the mix, so we’re all on the same page regarding the complexity of the topic.]