Effects of Exercise on the Isoelectric Patterns of Erythropoietin

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Objectives:Recombinant erythropoietin has a strong impact on aerobic power and is therefore one of the most potent doping agents in endurance sports. The anti-doping control of this synthetic hormone relies on the detection, in the urine, of its isoelectric pattern, which differs from that of the corresponding natural hormone, the latter being typically more acidic than the former. However, a small number of natural urinary patterns, referred to as “atypical patterns,” are less acidic than the dominant form. Based on anecdotal evidence, the occurrence of such patterns seems to be related to particular strenuous exercises. This study aimed to demonstrate this relation using a strenuous exercise protocol.Design:Seven athletes took part in a training protocol including a series of supramaximal short-duration exercises. Urine and blood samples were collected throughout the protocols.Settings:World Cycling Center, Aigle, Switzerland, and research laboratories.Participants:Seven top-level athletes (cyclists) were involved in this study.Main Outcome Measures:Erythropoietin (EPO) isoelectric patterns were obtained by submitting blood and urine samples to isoelectric focusing. Additional protein dosages were performed.Results:Supramaximal short-duration exercises induced the transformation of typical urinary natural EPO patterns into atypical ones. None of the obtained atypical patterns fulfilled the 3 criteria mandatory for reporting an adverse analytical finding. Serum EPO patterns were not affected by the exercises that caused the transformation of urinary patterns.Conclusion:An exercise-induced transient renal dysfunction is proposed as a hypothetic explanation for these observations that rely on parallel investigations of proteinuria in the same samples.

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