Myostatin inhibitory peptides in sports drug testing

Publication: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


Across species, skeletal muscle mass is negatively regulated by the TGF-β cytokine myostatin (MSTN). Inhibitors of this growth factor and its signaling pathways are therefore not only promising therapeutics for muscular diseases but also potential performance-enhancing agents in sports. Within this study, protein precipitation and liquid chromatography high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS/MS) were employed to develop a detection method for six novel MSTN inhibitory peptides derived from the regulatory MSTN propeptide and the natural MSTN inhibitor follistatin (FST) from doping control serum samples. The approach was comprehensively characterized and found to allow for a specific detection down to concentrations of 3-9 ng/mL. Moreover, several potential metabolites of the drug candidates referred to as DF-3, DF-25, and Peptide 7 were identified as valuable complementary analytical targets for doping control analytical assays. Overall, the acquired data pave the way for an implementation of MSTN inhibitory peptides into routine sports drug testing. Even though no drug candidate has obtained clinical approval yet, a proactive development of detection assays is of utmost importance to deter athletes from misusing such compounds, which are readily available for research purposes and on the black market.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDrug testing and analysis
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 29.03.2023


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