DOI: 10.1093/jat/bkad057 ISSN:

Segmental analysis and long-term monitoring of vadadustat in equine hair for the purpose of doping control

Hideaki Ishii, Mariko Shibuya, Kanichi Kusano, Yu Sone, Takahiro Kamiya, Ai Wakuno, Hideki Ito, Kenji Miyata, Masayuki Yamada, Gary Ngai-Wa Leung
  • Chemical Health and Safety
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry


Vadadustat is a newly launched hypoxia-inducible factor stabilizer with anti-anemia and erythropoietic effects; however, its use in horses is expressly forbidden in both racing and equestrian competitions. Following our previous report on the pharmacokinetic study of vadadustat in horse plasma and urine, a long-term longitudinal analysis of vadadustat in horse hair after nasoesophageal administration (3 g/day for 3 days) to three thoroughbred mares is described in this study. Our main objective is to further extend the detection period of vadadustat for the purpose of doping control. Three bunches of mane hair from each horse were collected at 0 (pre), 1, 2, 3 and 6 month(s) post-administration. These hair samples were each cut into 2-cm segments and pulverized after decontamination of hair samples. The analyte in the powdered hair samples was extracted with liquid–liquid extraction followed by further purification by solid-phase extraction with strong anion exchange columns. The amount of vadadustat incorporated into the hair was quantified with a newly developed and validated method using liquid chromatography–high-resolution mass spectrometry. Our results show that vadadustat was confirmed in all post-administration hair samples, but its metabolites were not present. Thus, the detection window for vadadustat could be successfully extended up to 6 months post-administration. Interestingly, the 2-cm segmental analysis revealed that the tip of the drug band in the hair shifted along with the hair shafts in correspondence with the average hair growth rate (∼2.5 cm/month) but gradually diffused more widely from 2 cm at 1 month post-administration to up to 14 cm at 6 months post-administration. However, the loss in the total amount of vadadustat in hair over time was observed to most likely be due to the degradation of vadadustat. These findings will be useful for the control of abuse and/or misuse of vadadustat and the interpretation of positive doping cases.

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