IGF-I and GH: potential use in gene doping

Growth Horm IGF Res. 2009 Aug;19(4):378-82. doi: 10.1016/j.ghir.2009.04.016. Epub 2009 May 31.


Gene doping is the term given to the potential misuse of gene therapy for the purposes of enhancing athletic performance. Insulin like growth factor-I (IGF-I), the prime target of growth hormone action, is one candidate gene for improving performance. In recent years a number of transgenic and somatic gene transfer studies on animals have shown that upregulation of IGF-I stimulates muscle growth and improves function. This increase in muscle IGF-I is not reflected in measurable increases in circulating IGF-I. Whilst the responses obtained in the animal studies would appear to give clear benefits for performance, the transfer of such techniques to humans still presents many technical challenges. Further challenges will also be faced by the anti doping authorities in detecting the endogenously produced products of enhanced gene expression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Athletes*
  • Dependovirus / genetics
  • Doping in Sports*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Human Growth Hormone / genetics*
  • Human Growth Hormone / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / genetics*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / therapeutic use*
  • Mice
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Rats


  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I