Temporal changes in physiology and haematology in response to high- and micro-doses of recombinant human erythropoietin

Brad Clark, Sarah M. Woolford, Annette Eastwood, Ken Sharpe, Peter G. Barnes, Christopher J Gore

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    32 Citations (Scopus)


    There is evidence to suggest athletes have adopted recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) dosing regimens that diminish the likelihood of being caught by direct detection techniques. However, the temporal response in physiology, performance, and Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) parameters to such regimens is not clearly understood. Participants were assigned to a high-dose only group (HIGH, n = 8, six rHuEPO doses of 250 IU/kg over two weeks), a combined high micro-dose group (COMB, n = 8, high-dose plus nine rHuEPO micro-doses over a further three weeks), or one of two placebo control groups who received saline in the same pattern as the HIGH (HIGH-PLACEBO, n = 4) or COMB (COMB-PLACEBO, n = 4) groups. Temporal changes in physiology and performance were tracked by graded exercise test (GXT) and haemoglobin mass assessment at baseline, after high dose, after micro-dose (COMB and COMB-PLACEBO only) and after a four-week washout. Venous blood samples were collected throughout the baseline, rHuEPO administration, and washout periods to determine the haematological and ABP response to each dosing regimen. Physiological adaptations induced by a two-week rHuEPO high-dose were maintained by rHuEPO micro-dosing for at least three weeks. However, all participants administered rHuEPO registered at least one suspicious ABP value during the administration or washout periods. These results indicate there is sufficient sensitivity in the ABP to detect use of high rHuEPO doping regimens in athletic populations and they provide important empirical examples for use by anti-doping experts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1561-1571
    Number of pages11
    JournalDrug Testing and Analysis
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


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