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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 18-22

Detecting growth hormone misuse in athletes

Human Development and Health Academic Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Richard I. G. Holt
IDS Building (MP887), Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: World Anti-Doping Agency, United States Anti-Doping Agency, and Partnership for Clean Competition, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2230-8210.119494

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Athletes have been misusing growth hormone (GH) for its anabolic and metabolic effects since the early 1980s, at least a decade before endocrinologists began to treat adults with GH deficiency. Although there is an ongoing debate about whether GH is performance enhancing, recent studies suggest that GH improves strength and sprint capacity, particularly when combined with anabolic steroids. The detection of GH misuse is challenging because it is an endogenous hormone. Two approaches have been developed to detect GH misuse; the first is based on the measurement of pituitary GH isoforms and the ratio of 22-kDa isoform to total GH. The second is based on the measurement of insulin like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and N-terminal propeptide of type III procollagen (P-III-NP) which increase in a dose-dependent manner in response to GH administration. Both methodologies have been approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and have led to the detection of a number of athletes misusing GH.

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