Detection of misuse of peptides and proteins as growth promoters is a major issue for sport and food regulatory agencies. The limitations of current analytical detection strategies for this class of compounds, in combination with their efficacy in growth-promoting effects, make peptide and protein drugs highly susceptible to abuse by either athletes or farmers who seek for products to illicitly enhance muscle growth. Mass spectrometry (MS) for qualitative analysis of peptides and proteins is well-established, particularly due to tremendous efforts in the proteomics community. Similarly, due to advancements in targeted proteomic strategies and the rapid growth of protein-based biopharmaceuticals, MS for quantitative analysis of peptides and proteins is becoming more widely accepted. These continuous advances in MS instrumentation and MS-based methodologies offer enormous opportunities for detection and confirmation of peptides and proteins. Therefore, MS seems to be the method of choice to improve the qualitative and quantitative analysis of peptide and proteins with growth-promoting properties. This review aims to address the opportunities of MS for peptide and protein analysis in veterinary control and sports-doping control with a particular focus on detection of illicit growth promotion. An overview of potential peptide and protein targets, including their amino acid sequence characteristics and current MS-based detection strategies is, therefore, provided. Furthermore, improvements of current and new detection strategies with state-of-the-art MS instrumentation are discussed for qualitative and quantitative approaches.
Broek, I., Blokland, M. H., Nessen, M. A., & Sterk, S. S. (2015). Current trends in mass spectrometry of peptides and proteins: application to veterinary and sports-doping control. Mass Spectrometry Reviews, 34(6), 571-594. https://doi.org/10.1002/mas.21419