Is Stem Cell Doping on the Horizon for Bodybuilding?

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weight lifting stem cells

Did you know that there are stem cells in your muscles?  Do weight lifting stem cells exist?  There have been several research papers published showing that stem cells are resident in muscles and respond to exercise, but only a few have concentrated on what those stem cells do as you lift weights. This recent study looked at mice who were exercised to simulate pumping iron and then given shots of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) versus mice that were not. The MSC injected mice had more and bigger blood vessels in their muscles, a finding that also occurs with intensive weight lifting. What’s interesting about this study is that it seems to set up a future where body builders who now use steroids and other drugs for enhancement could inject MSCs into their muscles to provide more enhancement. This would likely be a very dumb idea, but then again, so is taking 10 times the normal physiologic steroid dose! As a result, here’s a prediction for the next 10 years. I think it’s only a matter of time before a bodybuilder gets busted for MSC doping! Even more interesting is that the MSCs would be all but invisible to the small molecule detection systems that currently police doping. Even if you ran DNA analysis on a muscle biopsy looking for chimerism (cells with two different DNA signatures), that test could be fooled by the body builder using his own stem cells. So we may see rumors of stem cell doping long before anybody gets caught by some new test. It looks to be a strange future indeed…

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