Hepcidin as a potential biomarker for blood doping

Hepcidin as a potential biomarker for blood doping / Nicolas Leuenberger, Emanuele Bulla, Olivier Salamin, Raul Nicoli, Neil Robinson, Norbert Baume, Martial Saugy. - (Drug Testing and Analysis 9 (2017) 7 (July); p. 1093-1097)

  • PMID: 27758046
  • DOI: 10.1002/dta.2122


The concentration of hepcidin, a key regulator of iron metabolism, is suppressed during periods of increased erythropoietic activity. The present study obtained blood samples from 109 elite athletes and examined the correlations between hepcidin and markers of erythropoiesis and iron metabolism (i.e., haemoglobin, erythropoietin (EPO), ferritin, erythroferrone (ERFE), and iron concentration). Furthermore, an administration study was undertaken to examine the effect of recombinant human EPO (rhEPO) delta (Dynepo™) on hepcidin concentrations in healthy male volunteers. The effects on hepcidin were then compared with those on reticulocyte percentage (Ret%) and ferritin concentration. There was a significant positive correlation between hepcidin and ferritin, iron, and haemoglobin levels in athletes, whereas hepcidin showed an inverse correlation with ERFE. Administration of rhEPO delta reduced hepcidin levels, suggesting that monitoring hepcidin may increase the sensitivity of the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) for detecting rhEPO abuse.

Original document


Research / Study
18 October 2016
Baume, Norbert
Bulla, Emanuele
Leuenberger, Nicolas
Nicoli, Raul
Robinson, Neil
Salamin, Olivier
Saugy, Martial
Other organisations
Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) - Lausanne University Hospital
Université de Lausanne (UNIL) - University of Lausanne
Lausanne, Switzerland: Laboratoire Suisse d’Analyse du Dopage
Analytical aspects
Blood testing method
Testing method development
Medical terms
Blood doping
Athlete Biological Passport (ABP)
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Scientific article
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Date generated
15 July 2021
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