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Biochemistry Insights

The Use of Soluble Transferrin Receptor in the Detection of rHuEPO Abuse in Sports

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Biochemistry Insights 2010:37-18

Review

Published on 16 Feb 2010

DOI: 10.4137/BCI.S3943


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Abstract

Erythropoietin (EPO) increases the number of circulating erythrocytes and muscle oxygenation. The recombinant forms of EPO have indiscriminately been used by athletes, mainly in endurance sports to increase their erythrocytes concentration, thus generating a better delivery of oxygen to the muscle tissue. The administration of recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) except for therapeutic use was prohibited by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its unauthorized use considered as doping. In the last few years, a number of studies using parameters indicative of accelerated erythropoiesis have investigated a number of indirect methods for the detection of rHuEPO abuse. No single indirect marker has been found that can satisfactorily demonstrated rHuEPO misuse. Soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) is a new marker of iron status and erythropoietic activity. It has been included in multivariable blood testing models for the detection of performance enhancing EPO abuse in sports. Indirect markers of altered erythropoiesis give reliable evidence of current or discontinued rHuEPO usage. This review describes the physical, biological and pharmacokinetic properties of endogenous EPO and its recombinant form. It also discusses the available strategies for the detection of rHuEPO abuse in sports, involving the use of sTfR concentration directly or in mathematical multivariate models.



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