Transcriptional profiling: a potential anti-doping strategy

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2009 Dec;19(6):753-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.00970.x. Epub 2009 Jun 23.


Evolving challenges require evolving responses. The use of illicit performance enhancing drugs by athletes permeates the reality and the perception of elite sports. New drugs with ergogenic or masking potential are quickly adopted, driven by a desire to win and the necessity of avoiding detection. To counter this trend, anti-doping authorities are continually refining existing assays and developing new testing strategies. In the post-genome era, genetic- and molecular-based tests are being evaluated as potential approaches to detect new and sophisticated forms of doping. Transcriptome analysis, in which a tissue's complement of mRNA transcripts is characterized, is one such method. The quantity and composition of a tissue's transcriptome is highly reflective of milieu and metabolic activity. There is much interest in transcriptional profiling in medical diagnostics and, as transcriptional information can be obtained from a variety of easily accessed tissues, similar approaches could be used in doping control. This article briefly reviews current understanding of the transcriptome, common methods of global analysis of gene expression and non-invasive sample sources. While the focus of this article is on anti-doping, the principles and methodology described could be applied to any research in which non-invasive, yet biologically informative sampling is desired.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control*
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / isolation & purification*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis


  • Illicit Drugs
  • RNA, Messenger