Xenon Wins Gold Medals – Is It The New Blood

Posted on Oct 23 2014 - 2:56pm by Simbaa Da Lion

In a issue of a Sochi Winter Olympics, there was a stir opposite a news networks. It surrounded a use of a eminent gas xenon as a intensity performance-boosting representative in Russian cross-country skiers. Documents detailing a use of xenon in Russian athletes have indeed been around for roughly a decade, though a ubiquitous debate is distant some-more recent. When a new essay in The Economist suggested that xenon competence furnish identical effects to blood-doping, a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) unexpected weighed in. A series of general sports teams also cried foul, utterly saying as Russia surfaced a award list during Sochi.


The legality of xenon might take some time to provoke out, as it is not named as a criminialized substance. This aside, there are a series of questions per xenon use in athletes that we feel have been feeble reported in a renouned media: What is xenon? What does a scholarship tell us about xenon’s performance-boosting effects? And, finally, is this something some-more athletes should cruise branch to for opening benefits?


The Xenon Controversy


xenon, xenon doping, EPO, blood doping, russians and xenon, xenon useIn early 2013, a year before a Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia Today released a documentary detailing some of a initial technologies that a Russians were regulating to advantage intensity opening advantages. This enclosed transformation of xenon, utterly by cross-country skiers. Despite a potentially argumentative topic, a documentary primarily total small seductiveness in possibly a continuation sports village or a initial xenon inspect margin (which includes my stream PhD work).


This all altered when a essay in The Economist final month drew intensity links between xenon use and initial EPO-boosting effects. Erythropoietin (EPO) is a criminialized piece in general foe given it acts by augmenting a series of red blood cells in a circulation. This increases a oxygen-carrying ability of a blood and provides a opening boost, utterly in continuation athletes, such as cyclists or cross-country skiers.


As this essay gained momentum, there was conflict in a anti-doping communities per a opening of Russian athletes during Sochi. Interestingly, a Russians have substantially been regulating xenon given before a Turin Games in 2006, and were never utterly sly about it. As a outcome of a reaction, other news networks began to inspect a use of xenon in athletes. Prentice Steffen, conduct medicine for a Garmin-Sharp cycling team, was quoted as carrying deliberate regulating xenon in his athletes, before meditative improved of it. Dick Pound, boss of WADA, has also settled that a use of xenon constitutes doping.


Based on a diction of anti-doping law, this might technically be a case. However, in practice, xenon is not something we could detect in a contestant (you breathe a gas out within a few seconds), that means that proof xenon use might be difficult. As such, any movement by WADA will be formed on a nuances of doping law, that are not something we am going to plead here. Instead, we am going to tell we about a nuances of a science, and intensity advantages (and pitfalls) of this unequivocally cold substance.


What on Earth Is Xenon?


Xenon is one of a “noble” gases. If we remember behind to chemistry lessons, a eminent gases make adult a final mainstay of a periodic table, and are termed “noble” given of their really low reactivity. The other eminent gases embody helium, neon, argon, and krypton. They are mostly used in medical imaging (i.e. MRI scans), as good as several forms of lasers and lighting, given they are really stable. All of these gases exist as partial of a atmosphere, and are extracted by cooling atmosphere and separating out a several components. This takes a lot of time and appetite and, as a result, xenon gas is expensive. One low exhale of pristine xenon would cost we some-more than $25.


 xenon, xenon doping, EPO, blood doping, russians and xenon, xenon use 


Despite a fact that xenon doesn’t conflict easily, it happens to correlate with a series of receptors in a brain, and, utterly in animal experiments, has been shown to boost a countenance of a series of genes. Some of a genes activated by xenon impersonate a outcome oxygen starvation, that causes a physique to try and recompense by creation some-more red blood cells.


Due to a outcome on many receptors in a body, xenon has gained a lot of seductiveness in medicine. Xenon has been famous to have pain-killer properties given a 1940s, though wasn’t investigated extensively until a 1990s. Though costly to use, xenon has been used in a series of tellurian trials given it gives discerning and fast anesthesia during surgery, with fewer side effects compared to some other drugs. In further to this, xenon has been shown to strengthen a heart and mind if they turn carnivorous of oxygen (such as after a cardiac detain or stroke).


What About Xenon in Athletes?


The scientists featured in a Russia Today documentary (based during a Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Biomedical Problems) listed a following certain effects of xenon:


  • Improved performance
  • Reduced highlight and anxiety
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduction in withdrawal symptoms in drug addicts


If we could take a few breaths of a gas before a foe that would boost endurance, as good as ease your pre-race nerves, we consider any critical contestant would be interested. One contestant interviewed in a documentary also settled that he found it easier to sight and redeem after treatments with xenon. However, there is no medical novel whatsoever display anti-anxiety or performance-boosting effects of xenon.


Though xenon has been safely used in a series of tellurian medical studies, there is now no minute tellurian inspect into a effects of xenon in a modern-day athlete. It is value observant that Professor Yury Bubeev, who is widely featured in a documentary, has not published any studies during all in this area. Of course, we am in no position to contend their claims are totally spurious. It is also ideally probable that a Russian teams have certain tellurian information that is not nonetheless publicly available.


xenon, xenon doping, EPO, blood doping, russians and xenon, xenon use


So, What Do We Know?


The essay from The Economist drew some links to studies finished in rodents, that might explain a reported advantage of xenon in Russian athletes. In particular, this essay placed a lot of importance on a singular rodent study. In these mice, giving 70% xenon for dual hours increasing EPO in a kidneys by 160% after 24 hours. EPO is constructed as a outcome of signaling from a organisation of proteins famous as hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs). Certain HIFs (particularly HIF-1α) are up-regulated in response to reduced oxygen (hypoxia), and this is one of a categorical reasons altitude training works – reduction oxygen leads to some-more HIF, that boosts EPO. More EPO causes increasing blood cells in a circulation, that means we can ski ascending faster.


Another investigate mentioned in a essay showed that 70% xenon for dual hours increasing HIF-2α (but not HIF-1α) in a rodent kidney for 48 hours. Though there are a integrate of identical rodent studies display that xenon increases HIFs in a kidneys, these were studies finished to inspect either xenon could forestall kidney failure. There is zero to advise that xenon leads to an boost in EPO (or red blood dungeon production) elsewhere in a rodent body, let alone that of a human.


According to a request published in 2010 by a Russian State Research Institute of a Ministry of Defence, Russian athletes were presumably being given dual to 3 liters of xenon over a few mins during concentrations of 30-60% (based on response). This was finished each 24 hours or so, as a request states that a effects wear off after 48-72 hours. You’ll notice that, in a rodent studies, aloft concentrations of xenon were used for many longer durations of time than suggested in a Russian protocols. There is now no information to support that a few brief mins of xenon will have any outcome during all. Though it is probable xenon activates EPO-related genes quickly, we simply don’t know. There is also a outrageous intensity remedy outcome in a Russian athletes, that might be formidable to apart from genuine changes in things such as EPO levels.


xenon, xenon doping, EPO, blood doping, russians and xenon, xenon use


Is Xenon Safe?


The organisation we work with (under Professor Marianne Thoresen during a University of Oslo) has spent a final decade building a use of xenon to strengthen a smarts of babies that are carnivorous of oxygen during childbirth. For that reason, we consider it is an sparkling gas, utterly for healing medical use. However, a law is that xenon has usually been used in humans by gifted anesthetists, and in sanatorium settings. Though people can safely be given a singular sip of xenon over many hours underneath tranquil conditions, regularly restraint these receptors in a mind could have effects that have never been studied. For example, xenon blocks one receptor that is obliged for a effects of ketamine, that is compared with psychiatric problems in long-term users.


Xenon also has non-static effects. Some people could breathe 70% xenon and feel nothing, while others could have poignant symptoms, including upsetting “pin and needles” form sensations, light-headedness, or even detriment of alertness (it is an anesthetic, after all). As xenon is around 4.5 times heavier than air, descending defunct surrounded by xenon could potentially leave we with lungs full of it, pulling out many of a air. This creates a intensity risk of being asphyxiated by xenon if used improperly. Considering that it already mimics a effects of hypoxia utterly faithfully, this is clearly not something value perplexing during home. You’re substantially improved off boosting EPO by holding your breath.


So, Where Do We Stand?


I don’t consider there’s scarcely adequate information to contend either xenon confers any genuine jaunty opening advantage during all. In fact, xenon might even shortly be outlawed for use in athletes anyway. It is also costly and potentially dangerous if not used correctly. However, xenon has a lot of intensity for use in medicine, and we can positively design inspect in this area to take off over a subsequent few years. Information on opening and reserve might good change in a future, though for now, we should work with what we know (training, recovery, nutrition) to get fitter and faster, rather than get too vehement about this unproven initial drug.



1. Thoresen M, Hobbs CE, Wood T, Chakkarapani E, Dingley J. Cooling total with evident or behind xenon transformation provides homogeneous long-term neuroprotection after neonatal hypoxia-ischemia. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2009 Apr;29(4):707-14.

2. Esencan E1, Yuksel S, Tosun YB, Robinot A, Solaroglu I, Zhang JH. XENON in medical area: importance on neuroprotection in hypoxia and anesthesia. Med Gas Res. 2013 Feb 1;3(1):4.

3. Kirkland LL. Protecting both heart and brain: a eminent idea for a eminent gas. Crit Care Med. 2013 Sep;41(9):2228-9.

4. Arola OJ1, Laitio RM, Roine RO, Grönlund J, Saraste A, Pietilä M, Airaksinen J, Perttilä J, Scheinin H, Olkkola KT, Maze M, Laitio TT. Feasibility and cardiac reserve of inhaled xenon in multiple with healing hypothermia following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Crit Care Med. 2013 Sep;41(9):2116-24.

5. Xenon and Cooling Therapy in Babies during High Risk of Brain Injury Following Poor Condition during Birth (CoolXenon2). ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01545271

6. Ma D, Lim T, Xu J, Tang H, Wan Y, Zhao H, Hossain M, Maxwell PH, Maze M. Xenon preconditioning protects opposite renal ischemic-reperfusion damage around HIF-1alpha activation. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2009 Apr;20(4):713-20.

7. Jia P, Teng J, Zou J, Fang Y, Jiang S, Yu X, Kriegel AJ, Liang M, Ding X. Intermittent bearing to xenon protects opposite gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity. PLoS One. 2013 May 30;8(5):e64329.

8. Zhao H, Watts HR, Chong M, Huang H, Tralau-Stewart C, Maxwell PH, Maze M, George AJ, Ma D. Xenon diagnosis protects opposite cold ischemia compared behind swindle duty and prolongs swindle presence in rats. Am J Transplant. 2013 Aug;13(8):2006-18.

9. Chakkarapani E, Thoresen M, Hobbs CE, Aquilina K, Liu X, Dingley J. A closed-circuit neonatal xenon smoothness system: a technical and unsentimental neuroprotection feasibility investigate in baby pigs. Anesth Analg. 2009 Aug;109(2):451-60.


Xenon striking by me [CC-BY-SA-2.5], around Wikimedia Commons.

Noble gasses by New work Alchemist-hp (talk) www.pse-mendelejew.de); strange singular images: Jurii, http://images-of-elements.com. (Original: Jurii:) [CC-BY-3.0], around Wikimedia Commons.

Sochi print by Kremlin.ru [CC-BY-3.0], around Wikimedia Commons.

Photo 4 courtesy of Shutterstock.

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