Erythropoietin, or its alternative erythropoetin or EPO, is a glycoprotein hormone that controls erythropoiesis, or red blood cell production. It is a cytokine for erythrocyte (red blood cell) precursors in the bone marrow.
Also called hematopoietin or hemopoietin, it is produced by the peritubular capillary endothelial cells in the kidney, and is the hormone that regulates red blood cell production. It also has other known biological functions. For example, erythropoietin plays an important role in the brain's response to neuronal injury. EPO is also involved in the wound healing process.
When exogenous EPO is used as a performance-enhancing drug, it is classified as an erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA). Exogenous EPO can often be detected in blood, due to slight difference from the endogenous protein
EPO has put a whole new spin on blood doping. No need for messy transfusions, just shoot up with EPO to increase your circulating erythrocyte mass. Until recently accurate testing has been difficult because the recombinant human EPO made in the lab is virtually identical to the naturally occurring form and there are no firmly established normal ranges for EPO in the body. The only previously available route to curtail cheating for sports governing bodies was to ban an athlete if the hematocrit (see side bar) level was too high (e.g., above 50%). Thus, over the past 10 – 15 years some athletes chose to cheat because, as long as they kept their hematocrit levels below 50%, there seemed little risk of getting caught. Of course the other way to get caught was highlighted in the disastrous 1998 Tour de France. Several team doctors and personnel from several teams were caught red-handed with thousands of doses of EPO and other banned substances. Ultimately about 50% of the teams withdrew from the race – either for cheating or in protest.
Fortunately, testing technology has now caught up and promises to stem the tide of abuse. There is now an accurate urine test that can detect the differences between normal and synthetic EPO. This test is now the standard and was the sole means to detect for EPO use in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. The reliability of this test helps explain the cascade of athletes who have been caught and, subsequently, banned from competition. This surge in positive tests will likely decline as the “word” gets out and EPO use declines -- at least until someone figures out a work-around. Of course, there is always the next great pharmacologic or genetic cheat just lurking around the corner to consider.
It recommends 1000iu EPO per day for at least 14 days . After 3 weeks you will feel results that will last from 3-6 months . While using EPO you should control you blood pressure and you should drink at least 3-5 liter water per day.