Doping control analysis of total arsenic in equine plasma

George H.M. Chan, Wenlu Tang, Peter Curl, Yuanyuan Lin, Terence S.M. Wan, Emmie N.M. Ho

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Arsenic can be easily found in our surrounding environment. Because of its ubiquitous nature, horse urine and blood invariably contain low levels of arsenic. Nevertheless, inorganic arsenic, despite its general use as a tonic for horses, is an effective doping agent having a deleterious effect because of its ability to induce gastroenteritis. The misuse of arsenic in horseracing has been controlled by an international urinary threshold of total arsenic at 0.3 μg/mL. However, an equivalent threshold for total arsenic in plasma is yet to be established. In this study, an inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry method has been developed for quantifying total arsenic in equine plasma. Statistical analysis determined that the data from a population study of 1,552 post-race and out-of-competition plasma samples fits a Gaussian mixture model with two Gaussian components. A rounded-up provisional threshold for plasma total arsenic at 2.5 ng/mL was subsequently established. Results from administration trials with a sodium arsanilate-containing supplement showed that both urinary and plasma arsenic was significantly elevated after administration. The maximum urinary detection time was around 22 h based on the international threshold. However, the maximum plasma detection time would be longer than 73 h if the provisional threshold of 2.5 ng/mL was adopted. In view of the high discrepancy between the urine and plasma detection times, a revised plasma threshold of 15 ng/mL is proposed to afford a comparable detection time in both matrices. The risk of a normal sample exceeding the proposed plasma total arsenic threshold is practically zero.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1462-1469
Number of pages8
JournalDrug Testing and Analysis
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • arsenic
  • horse
  • inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry
  • plasma
  • threshold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Spectroscopy


Dive into the research topics of 'Doping control analysis of total arsenic in equine plasma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this