Detection of black market follistatin 344.

Drug testing and analysis (2019-11-24)
Christian Reichel, Günter Gmeiner, Mario Thevis

Follistatin, a myostatin-inhibiting protein, is prohibited according to chapter S4 of the "WADA 2019 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods". While currently no approved pharmaceutical formulations of follistatin are available, follistatin can be bought on the black market. Most of the products are labeled "follistatin 344" (FS344), a few "follistatin 315". A study on FS344 black market products was performed and an electrophoretic detection method for serum and urine developed. While only nine of the 17 tested products actually contained follistatin, in some of the others growth promoting peptides were found (e.g. MGF, GHRP-2). Surprisingly, all nine products contained His-tagged FS344 and a high degree of its oligomers. The detection method is based on immunomagnetic purification followed by SDS-PAGE and Western blotting with a monoclonal anti-His antibody. Alternatively, a monoclonal anti-follistatin antibody can be used. For immunoprecipitation (IP), a polyclonal anti-follistatin antibody is applied. An evaluation of suitable antibodies for IP and immunoblotting is also presented. Furthermore, practically all currently available follistatin standards were investigated. The detection limit of the method for black market FS344 in urine is ca 0.1 ng/mL for 10 mL. For a sample volume of 100 μL, an LOD of 5 ng/mL could be achieved for serum. Due to the presence of His-tags an unambiguous differentiation from endogenous follistatin is possible.

Product Number
Product Description

Anti-Mouse IgM (μ-chain specific)–Biotin antibody produced in goat, affinity isolated antibody, buffered aqueous solution
Monoclonal Anti-FST antibody produced in mouse, clone 4B11, purified immunoglobulin, buffered aqueous solution