Identification of the growth-hormone-releasing peptide-2 (GHRP-2) in a nutritional supplement

Drug Test Anal. 2010 Mar;2(3):144-8. doi: 10.1002/dta.120.


Black market products of a pharmaceutical nature and nutritional supplements have received substantial and increasing attention because of potential performance enhancement in elite and non-professional sports. In addition, improved general health is claimed for non-competing individuals. The risks and foreseeable dangers of the uncontrolled use of highly potent and non-approved pharmaceutical compounds in healthy individuals are of considerable concern. In the present case report, the emerging drug candidate GHRP-2 with verified growth-hormone-releasing properties was identified and quantified in tablets offered as an over-the-counter nutritional supplement. The impact of this orally active peptide on the hGH/IGF-axis has been established for several years and its illicit use in elite sports has been assumed. As a releasing factor for hGH, GHRP-2 belongs to the list of substances prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Unfortunately, to date there is no routinely performed assay for the determination of these peptides potentially occurring in biological fluids of competing athletes, but the present data will facilitate the implementation by providing principle analytical information on liquid chromatographic and mass spectrometric behaviour. Qualitative identification of the target analyte after extraction from the tablet matrix was performed by high resolution/high accuracy mass spectrometry after liquid chromatographic separation under consideration of the accurate masses and the ratios of the protonated molecules and their fragment ions derived from their collisionally induced dissociation. Quantitative results were obtained by means of liquid chromatography coupled to a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer and linear regression using an external calibration curve (with GHRP-2 reference compound) adjusted via internal standard (Hexarelin). Hereby, the content of GHRP-2 was determined with approximately 50 µg per tablet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calibration
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Dietary Supplements / analysis*
  • Doping in Sports
  • Oligopeptides / analysis*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Tablets / analysis


  • Oligopeptides
  • Tablets
  • growth hormone-releasing peptide-2