UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Using genetics to detect homologous blood doping Maghsoodi, Mona


Blood doping refers to any illicit means used to increase the erythrocyte count in the body; thereby, increasing oxygen delivery to the muscles. Anti-doping authorities strongly oppose blood doping, and they have prohibited transfusions and the use of substances that increase hemoglobin levels. Athletes now avoid using erythropoeisis-stimulating agents and have reverted to older doping methods, such as blood transfusions. As blood transfusion become more prevalent, current tests for blood transfusions become more problematic. Homologous blood doping is the transfusion of another person’s blood to increase one’s own hemoglobin levels. The current method for detecting homologous blood doping is flow cytometry; however, this method is invasive, costly and requires proper conditions for storage of the blood samples. This study outlines a test that uses genetic differences among individuals in order to detect doping. The proposed anti-doping test eliminates major limitations of other tests. This study also investigates the feasibility and sensitivity of using genetic variations among individuals to detect homologous blood doping. Blood required for doping must be matched for ABO blood type, but because it comes from another individual it will be mismatched for genetic information (i.e. DNA). Given that an individual carries two copies of any chromosome and consequently two copies of most genes, foreign cell detection can be made possible by the discovery of a third or fourth copy of certain genes. Thus, this detection method identifies the presence of genes that do not belong to the athlete. In this study, doping conditions were simulated by mixing bloods at various ratios, including the 90:10 ratio that is commonly observed in athletic doping. PCR based methods of genotyping were used to detect donor DNA in the recipient’s sample. Genetic markers (D1S80, D1S111, D17S30, APO-B and ACE I/D) were used to detect the heterogeneous blood samples. The test successfully identified a 10% allogeneic cell population using a finger prick of blood (50 µL). As that dilution involved a heterozygous donor, this result demonstrates that the assay is sensitive enough to detect a 5% dilution. Overall, this genetic approach allows for the development of an efficient, sensitive and inexpensive test.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International