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. 2019 Mar 30;33(6):579-586.
doi: 10.1002/rcm.8377.

Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry in Antidoping Analysis: The Use of Endogenous Reference Compounds


Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry in Antidoping Analysis: The Use of Endogenous Reference Compounds

Xavier de la Torre et al. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. .


Rationale: Isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) is an analytical technique required by the World Antidoping Agency (WADA) before releasing of an adverse finding for the abuse of pseudoendogenous steroids (i.e. testosterone). For every single individual, the delta 13 C values (‰) of the selected target compounds (TCs, i.e. testosterone and/or its precursors/metabolites) are compared with those of endogenous reference compounds (ERCs). The aim of this work is to investigate the individual variation in the delta values of four different commonly used ERCs to establish the maximum acceptable variation, in order to detect potential outliers.

Methods: Routine urine samples collected for antidoping purposes were submitted to IRMS confirmation. After a specific liquid chromatographic purification of the analytes of interest, the final extracts were analyzed by gas chromatography/combustion (GC/C)-IRMS. The selected ERCs monitored were pregnanediol, pregnanetriol, 11-keto-etiocholanolone and 11β-hydroxyandrosterone. The obtained 13 C delta values were statistically analyzed to evaluate their inter- and intra-individual distribution.

Results: The delta values of the ERCs studied showed a normal distribution and no major differences among genders were observed. As expected, there are differences depending on the geographical origin of the samples, reflecting different dietary habits and food sources. The intra-individual dispersion, expressed as the standard deviation (SD) of the values of the studied ERCs, did not greatly exceed the instrumental error (0.5‰), demonstrating the good preservation of the delta values along the metabolic pathway.

Conclusions: For the selected ERCs of non-sporting volunteers and the urinary specimens from more than 1000 sportsmen, we can propose a maximum SD of 0.54‰ and range of 1.2‰ for delta 13 C values as acceptance criteria to detect potential outliers. These cases can be caused by the external masking effect of the administration of a substance modifying the delta values or outliers due to unforeseen procedural artifacts.

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