General Chemical Structure

Testosterone has a four-ring structure composed of nineteen carbon atoms. Accordingly, the carbon atoms are labeled by number from one to nineteen (see Figure 1). Many synthetic forms of testosterone are made by adding either an alkyl group or an ester to the seventeen-carbon atom. An alkyl group is a chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms. An ester is formed by reacting an acidic chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms to the -OH group on the seven-teen-carbon atom. In general, when an alkyl group is added to the seventeen-carbon atom, the resulting drug can be taken as a pill; however, these so-called seventeen-alkylated AASs are relatively toxic to the liver and are more likely to cause negative effects on cholesterol levels. By contrast, when an ester is formed at the seventeen-carbon atom, an injectable form of testosterone is created that is less toxic to the liver and cholesterol levels. Other AASs are created by making modifications at other carbon atoms.

Figure 1

Testosterone Molecule.

The numbers refer to carbon atoms, and the hydrogen and hydroxyl groups are at carbon 17.

Figure 1

Testosterone Molecule.

The numbers refer to carbon atoms, and the hydrogen and hydroxyl groups are at carbon 17.

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