Quantification of insulin-like growth factor-1 in dried blood spots for detection of growth hormone abuse in sport

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2013 Feb;405(6):1949-58. doi: 10.1007/s00216-012-6626-y. Epub 2012 Dec 22.


There is significant evidence that athletes are using recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) to enhance performance, and its use is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and professional sports leagues. Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is the primary mediator of growth hormone action and is used as a biomarker for the detection of rhGH abuse. The current biomarker-based method requires collection and expedited shipment of venous blood which is costly and may decrease the number of tests performed. Measurement of GH biomarkers in dried blood spots (DBS) would considerably simplify sample collection and shipping methods to allow testing of a greater number of samples regardless of location. A method was developed to quantify intact IGF-1 protein in DBS by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. A step-wise acid-acetonitrile extraction was optimized to achieve a sensitive assay with a lower limit of quantification of 50 ng/mL. IGF-1 remained stable at room temperature for up to 8 days, which would allow shipment of DBS cards at ambient temperature. In a comparison between plasma concentrations of IGF-1 and concentrations measured from venous and finger prick DBS, there was good correlation and agreement, r(2) of 0.8551 and accuracy of 86-113 % for venous DBS and r(2) of 0.9586 and accuracy of 89-122 % for finger prick DBS. The method is intended for use as a rapid screening method for IGF-1 to be used in the biomarker method of rhGH abuse detection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Athletes
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Chickens
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control
  • Dried Blood Spot Testing / methods*
  • Dried Blood Spot Testing / standards
  • Human Growth Hormone / administration & dosage
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Biomarkers
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I