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In vivo metabolism of the designer anabolic steroid hemapolin in the thoroughbred horse.

Drug testing and analysis (2020-01-18)
Christopher C Waller, Sumudu A Weththasinghe, Lauren McClure, Adam T Cawley, Craig Suann, Emily Suann, Emma Sutherland, Elliot Cooper, Alison Heather, Malcolm D McLeod

Hemapolin (2α,3α-epithio-17α-methyl-5α-androstan-17β-ol) is a designer steroid that is an ingredient in several "dietary" and "nutritional" supplements available online. As an unusual chemical modification to the steroid A-ring could allow this compound to pass through antidoping screens undetected, the metabolism of hemapolin was investigated by an in vivo equine drug administration study coupled with GC-MS analysis. Following administration of synthetically prepared hemapolin to a thoroughbred horse, madol (17α-methyl-5α-androst-2-en-17β-ol), reduced and dihydroxylated madol (17α-methyl-5α-androstane-2β,3α,17β-triol), and the isomeric enone metabolites 17β-hydroxy-17α-methyl-5α-androst-3-en-2-one and 17β-hydroxy-17α-methyl-5α-androst-2-en-4-one, were detected and confirmed in equine urine extracts by comparison with a library of synthetically derived reference materials. A number of additional madol derivatives derived from hydroxylation, dihydroxylation, and trihydroxylation were also detected but not fully identified by this approach. A yeast cell-based androgen receptor bioassay of available reference materials showed that hemapolin and many of the metabolites identified by this study were potent activators of the equine androgen receptor. This study reveals the metabolites resulting from the equine administration of the androgen hemapolin that can be incorporated into routine GC-MS antidoping screening and confirmation protocols to detect the illicit use of this agent in equine sports.

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