Potential parameters for the detection of hGH doping

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2003 Jul;376(5):696-700. doi: 10.1007/s00216-003-1926-x. Epub 2003 May 16.


The aim of our hGH application study with non-competitive athletes was the investigation of selected serum parameters from different processes affected by hGH. Fifteen athletes (age 21-33, mean 24) were treated with 0.06 IU hGH/kg BW per day or placebo (10 hGH, 5 placebo) respectively for 14 days. Blood samples were taken prior to, during and until 10 weeks after treatment. The concentrations of the following markers were determined in relevant serum samples: IGF-I, IGFBP-3, ALS, PIIINP, PINP, osteocalcin, and leptin. The IGF-I concentration increased rapidly within the hGH treatment group and showed significantly higher levels compared to baseline even 3 days after application. The response of the IGFBP-3 to the hGH applications was lower in comparison to IGF-I. The hGH group showed an increasing IGFBP-3 compared to baseline from day 4 till day 15. The response of PIIINP to hGH is clearly delayed compared to the IGF-I axis, but the PIIINP concentration remains on an increased level for a longer period (from day 4 until day 21). The time course and the extent of response varied strongly interindividually. PINP and osteocalcin showed only a small response to hGH applications. These parameters are characterised by a strong scattering of base values compared with the small response. In the hGH treatment group very different leptin concentrations were found at the beginning of the study, but after treatment decreasing leptin levels were observed in all cases. The determination of only one parameter will not be sufficient for detection of hGH abuse. A combination of markers by mathematical methods can be helpful to distinguish between placebo and hGH-treated athletes. By using the suggested discriminant function the data sets of hGH and placebo-treated athletes could be separated without false positive results.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Human Growth Hormone / administration & dosage*
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Leptin / blood
  • Male
  • Osteocalcin / blood
  • Peptide Fragments / blood
  • Procollagen / blood
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*


  • Biomarkers
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • Leptin
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Procollagen
  • procollagen Type I N-terminal peptide
  • procollagen Type III-N-terminal peptide
  • Osteocalcin
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I