Wondimu, D. H., Durussel, J., Mekonnen, W. Anjila, E., Ongaro, N., Rutto, M., Wilson, T., Mooses, M., Daskalaki, E., & Pitsiladis, Y. P. (2013). Blood parameters and running performance of Kenyan and Caucasian endurance trained males after rHuEpo administration. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(5), Supplement abstract number 1758.

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"Recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEpo) administration in healthy subjects living at sea-level enhances blood oxygen carrying capacity and exercise performance. However, it remains unknown whether similar effects would be found in Kenyans living and training at altitude."

This study defined and compared the time course of changes in blood parameters, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), and running time-trial performance following four weeks of recombinant human erythropoietin administration in Kenyan and Caucasian trained male runners. Endurance-trained males consisted of Scottish sea-level trained Ss (N =19) and Kenyan moderate-altitude (2,100-2,800 m) trained Ss (N = 20). Ss received recombinant human erythropoietin injections of 50 IU/kg body mass every two days for four weeks. Blood samples were obtained two weeks before, during rHuEpo, and four weeks after administration. VO2max and 3,000 m time-trial performance were measured pre-, post-administration, and at the end of the study.

Haematocrit and haemoglobin concentrations were higher in Kenyan compared to Scottish Ss prior to recombinant human erythropoietin but similar at the end of administration. Recombinant human erythropoietin administration improved VO2max and time-trial performance to a similar extent in both groups of runners.

Implication. Although baseline values were markedly different between groups and blood parameters did not change as much in the Kenyan athletes as in the Scottish athletes, the relative improvements in running performance post-recombinant human erythropoietin administration (~5%) and four weeks post-administration (~3%) were similar.

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