Immunoassays for the Measurement of IGF-II, IGFBP-2 and -3, and ICTP as Indirect Biomarkers of Recombinant Human Growth Hormone Misuse in Sport. Values in Selected Population of Athletes

J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2008 Nov 4;48(3):844-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2008.05.037. Epub 2008 Jun 7.


Insulin-like growth factor-II (IGF-II), insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) -2 and -3 and C-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen (ICTP) have been proposed, among others, as indirect biomarkers of the recombinant human growth hormone misuse in sport. An extended intra- and inter-laboratory validation of commercially available immunoassays for biomarkers detection was performed. ELISA assays for total IGF-II, IGFBP-2 and IGFBP-3 (IGF-II/ELISA1: DSLabs, IGFBP-2/ELISA2: Biosource, and IGFBP-3/ELISA3: BioSource) and an EIA assay for ICTP (ICTP/EIA: Orion Diagnostica) were evaluated. The inter- and intra-laboratory precision values were acceptable for all evaluated assays (maximum imprecision of 30% and 66% were found only for the lowest quality control samples of IGF-II and IGFBP-3). Correct accuracy was obtained for all inter-laboratory immunoassays and for IGFBP-2 intra-laboratory immunoassay. The range of concentrations found in serum samples under investigation was always covered by the calibration curves of the studied immunoassays. However, 11% and 15% of the samples felt below the estimated LOQ for IGF-II and ICTP, respectively, in the zone where lower precision was obtained. Although the majority of evaluated assays showed an overall reliability not always suitable for antidoping control analysis, relatively high concordances between laboratory results were obtained for all assays. Evaluated immunoassays were used to measure serum concentrations of IGF-II, IGFBP-2 and -3 and ICTP in elite athletes of various sport disciplines at different moments of the training season; in recreational athletes at baseline conditions and finally in sedentary individuals. Serum IGF-II was statistically higher both in recreational and elite athletes compared to sedentary individuals. Elite athletes showed lower IGFBP-2 and higher IGFBP-3 concentration with respect to recreational athletes and sedentary people. Among elite athletes, serum IGFBP-3 (synchronized swimming), and ICTP (rhythmic gymnastics) concentrations were sport-dependent. Over the training season, within athlete variability was observed for IGFBP-2 in case of taekwondo and IGFBP-2 and -3 in case of weightlifting. Variations due to those aspects should be taken in careful consideration in the hypothesis of setting reference concentration ranges for doping detection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Collagen / analysis*
  • Collagen / blood
  • Doping in Sports
  • Drug Stability
  • Female
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Human Growth Hormone / genetics
  • Human Growth Hormone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 2 / blood*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / blood*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / analysis*
  • Male
  • Population Groups
  • Recombinant Proteins / blood
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sports / standards*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods
  • Substance Abuse Detection / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 2
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II
  • Collagen