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A robust test for growth hormone doping--present status and future prospects


Although doping with growth hormone (GH) is banned, there is anecdotal evidence that it is widely abused. GH is reportedly used often in combination with anabolic steroids at high doses for several months. Development of a robust test for GH has been challenging because recombinant human 22 kDa (22K) GH used in doping is indistinguishable analytically from endogenous GH and there are wide physiological fluctuations in circulating GH concentrations. One approach to GH testing is based on measurement of different circulating GH isoforms using immunoassays that differentiate between 22K and other GH isoforms. Administration of 22K GH results in a change in its abundance relative to other endogenous pituitary GH isoforms. The differential isoform method has been implemented; however, its utility is limited because of the short window of opportunity of detection. The second approach, which will extend the window of opportunity of detection, is based on the detection of increased levels of circulating GH-responsive proteins, such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF) axis and collagen peptides. Age and gender are the major determinants of variability for IGF-I and the collagen markers; therefore, a test based on these markers must take age into account for men and women. Extensive data is now available that validates the GH-responsive marker approach and implementation is now largely dependent on establishing an assured supply of standardized assays. Future directions will include more widespread implementation of both approaches by the World Anti-Doping Agency, possible use of other platforms for measurement and an athlete's passport to establish individual reference levels for biological parameters such as GH-responsive markers. Novel approaches include gene expression and proteomic profiling.

Type Journal
ISBN 1008-682X (Print)
Authors Nelson, A. E.;Ho, K. K. :
Published Date 2008-01-01
Published Volume 10
Published Issue 3
Published Pages 416-25
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version