New doping detection method distinguishes natural steroid hormones from anabolic steroids

Chemists report a new approach using ion mobility mass spectrometry to help

regulators to detect existingdopants and future potential doping compounds. Researchers will present their results at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Annually World Anti-Doping Agency(WADA) publishes a list of substances, including steroids, that athletes are prohibited from using in preparation for competition. However, it can be difficult to distinguish an athlete's natural (or endogenous) steroid hormones from synthetic (exogenous) hormones administered to increase endurance.

In addition, regulators face a different challenge.

“As we develop search methodsdrugs that improve athletic performance, clandestine laboratories are creating new substances that give athletes a competitive advantage, ”explains Christopher Chouinard, Ph.D., principal investigator of the project. New drugs cannot be found if laboratories do not know how to determine their chemical structure.

Chouinard's team from the Institute of TechnologyFlorida is trying to outsmart scammers with a new method of analysis. It not only distinguishes between endogenous and exogenous steroids, but also anticipates the structure of new compounds that may be found in athletes' urine samples.

Testing laboratories analyze samples withusing tandem mass spectrometry (MS) and gas or liquid chromatography. These approaches break up the molecules in the sample and separate the fragments, giving spectra. They reveal the identity of the original, intact connections. However, it is very difficult to differentiate molecules with small structural differences - including isomers that distinguish endogenous from exogenous steroids. A well-known example of exogenous steroids is synthetic anabolic steroids that athletes use to build muscle.

To highlight these differences, the scientists have paired MS with ion mobility spectrometry (IM). It makes the differences between the isomers more obvious.

Chemists have successfully used the IM-MS method toimproving the separation of isomers, identification and quantification of certain steroids in sample solutions. Scientists have already tested this method to identify nearly half of the banned steroids on the WADA list. He successfully characterizes and identifies these compounds as well as banned glucocorticoids such as cortisone. These substances improve athletic performance by suppressing inflammation caused by injury. The detection limits were found to be below one nanogram per milliliter.

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Alloying - adding impurities to the composition to change the physical and / or chemical properties of the base material.

Mass spectrometry - research methodsubstance, based on the determination of the ratio of mass to charge of ions formed during the ionization of the components of interest in the sample. One of the most powerful methods of qualitative identification of substances, which also allows quantitative determination.

Liquid (or gas) chromatography is chromatography in which the mobile phase is a liquid (or gas).

Glucocorticoids, or glucocorticosteroids -steroid hormones from the subclass of corticosteroids produced by the adrenal cortex. The main and most active natural glucocorticoid in humans is cortisol, but this is not always true in other animals.

Cortisone - the second most important after cortisolglucocorticoid hormone of the adrenal cortex in humans. Represents colorless crystals, poorly soluble in organic solvents. In animals and humans, a small amount is secreted by the adrenal glands into the blood.