Haemoglobin mass and running time trial performance after recombinant human erythropoietin administration in trained men

PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56151. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056151. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

Abstract

Recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEpo) increases haemoglobin mass (Hb(mass)) and maximal oxygen uptake (v O(2 max)).

Purpose: This study defined the time course of changes in Hb(mass), v O(2 max) as well as running time trial performance following 4 weeks of rHuEpo administration to determine whether the laboratory observations would translate into actual improvements in running performance in the field.

Methods: 19 trained men received rHuEpo injections of 50 IU•kg(-1) body mass every two days for 4 weeks. Hb(mass) was determined weekly using the optimized carbon monoxide rebreathing method until 4 weeks after administration. v O(2 max) and 3,000 m time trial performance were measured pre, post administration and at the end of the study.

Results: Relative to baseline, running performance significantly improved by ∼6% after administration (10:30±1:07 min:sec vs. 11:08±1:15 min:sec, p<0.001) and remained significantly enhanced by ∼3% 4 weeks after administration (10:46±1:13 min:sec, p<0.001), while v O(2 max) was also significantly increased post administration (60.7±5.8 mL•min(-1)•kg(-1) vs. 56.0±6.2 mL•min(-1)•kg(-1), p<0.001) and remained significantly increased 4 weeks after rHuEpo (58.0±5.6 mL•min(-1)•kg(-1), p = 0.021). Hb(mass) was significantly increased at the end of administration compared to baseline (15.2±1.5 g•kg(-1) vs. 12.7±1.2 g•kg(-1), p<0.001). The rate of decrease in Hb(mass) toward baseline values post rHuEpo was similar to that of the increase during administration (-0.53 g•kg(-1)•wk(-1), 95% confidence interval (CI) (-0.68, -0.38) vs. 0.54 g•kg(-1•)wk(-1), CI (0.46, 0.63)) but Hb(mass) was still significantly elevated 4 weeks after administration compared to baseline (13.7±1.1 g•kg(-1), p<0.001).

Conclusion: Running performance was improved following 4 weeks of rHuEpo and remained elevated 4 weeks after administration compared to baseline. These field performance effects coincided with rHuEpo-induced elevated v O(2 max) and Hb(mass).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Blood Volume / drug effects
  • Carboxyhemoglobin / metabolism
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Erythropoietin / administration & dosage*
  • Erythropoietin / genetics
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Hematocrit
  • Hemoglobins / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Endurance / drug effects*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Recombinant Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Running / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Hemoglobins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin
  • Carboxyhemoglobin

Grant support

This study was part of a larger research project supported and funded by World Anti-Doping Agency (08C19YP). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.