Validation of a blood marker for plasma volume in endurance athletes during a live-high train-low altitude training camp

Louisa M. Lobigs, Laura A. Garvican-Lewis, Victor L. Vuong, Nicolin Tee, Christopher J. Gore, Peter Peeling, Brian Dawson, Yorck O. Schumacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Altitude is a confounding factor within the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) due, in part, to the plasma volume (PV) response to hypoxia. Here, a newly developed PV blood test is applied to assess the possible efficacy of reducing the influence of PV on the volumetric ABP markers; haemoglobin concentration ([Hb]) and the OFF-score. Endurance athletes (n=34) completed a 21-night simulated live-high train-low (LHTL) protocol (14 h.d-1 at 3000 m). Bloods were collected twice pre-altitude; at days 3, 8, and 15 at altitude; and 1, 7, 21, and 42 days post-altitude. A full blood count was performed on the whole blood sample. Serum was analysed for transferrin, albumin, calcium, creatinine, total protein, and low-density lipoprotein. The PV blood test (consisting of the serum markers, [Hb] and platelets) was applied to the ABP adaptive model and new reference predictions were calculated for [Hb] and the OFF-score, thereby reducing the PV variance component. The PV correction refined the ABP reference predictions. The number of atypical passport findings (ATPFs) for [Hb] was reduced from 7 of 5 subjects to 6 of 3 subjects. The OFF-score ATPFs increased with the PV correction (from 9 to 13, 99% specificity); most likely the result of more specific reference limit predictions combined with the altitude-induced increase in red cell production. Importantly, all abnormal biomarker values were identified by a low confidence value. Although the multifaceted, individual physiological response to altitude confounded some results, the PV model appears capable of reducing the impact of PV fluctuations on [Hb].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1176-1183
Number of pages8
JournalDrug Testing and Analysis
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


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