PCR-based detection of gene transfer vectors: application to gene doping surveillance

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2013 Dec;405(30):9641-53. doi: 10.1007/s00216-013-7264-8. Epub 2013 Aug 4.


Athletes who illicitly use drugs to enhance their athletic performance are at risk of being banned from sports competitions. Consequently, some athletes may seek new doping methods that they expect to be capable of circumventing detection. With advances in gene transfer vector design and therapeutic gene transfer, and demonstrations of safety and therapeutic benefit in humans, there is an increased probability of the pursuit of gene doping by athletes. In anticipation of the potential for gene doping, assays have been established to directly detect complementary DNA of genes that are top candidates for use in doping, as well as vector control elements. The development of molecular assays that are capable of exposing gene doping in sports can serve as a deterrent and may also identify athletes who have illicitly used gene transfer for performance enhancement. PCR-based methods to detect foreign DNA with high reliability, sensitivity, and specificity include TaqMan real-time PCR, nested PCR, and internal threshold control PCR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Genetic Vectors / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / analysis*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*


  • Performance-Enhancing Substances