Innovative Detection of Testosterone Esters in Camel Hair: Unravelling the Mysteries of Dromedary Endocrinology

Iltaf Shah, Muhammad K. Hakeem, Aysha Alraeesi, James Barker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Doping and steroid use represent a serious threat to animal health and can even lead to their untimely and painful death. However, doping is an acute problem in today’s animal racing world, particularly in camel racing. Testosterone and its ten esters (benzoate, valerate, isocaproate, hexahydrobenzoate, decanoate, undecanoate, laurate, enanthate, cypionate, and caproate) are of utmost importance, because when they are administered to animals it is difficult to measure them efficiently. The levels of testosterone and its esters in camels and other animals are typically determined using urine and blood tests. The aim of this study was to develop and validate a liquid chromatographic–mass spectrometric (LC-MS/MS) method to determine testosterone esters in camel hair, and to apply the validated method to determine testosterone esters in collected samples. To our knowledge, this is the first report of such research. Results and Discussion: The levels of testosterone and its ten derivatives, along with the cortisol-D4 internal standard, were optimised for LC–MS/MS analysis; however, only testosterone along with its seven esters (namely benzoate, valerate, isocaproate, hexahydrobenzoate, decanoate, undecanoate and laurate) could be validated in camel hair. Only five testosterone esters could be determined in camel hair samples; the concentrations were obtained as 10.5–14.9 pg/mg for valerate (in three camels), 12.5–151.6 pg/mg for hexahydrobenzoate (in six camels), 4.8–32.1 pg/mg for laurate (in five camels), 5.1 pg/mg decanoate (in one camel), and 8.35–169 pg/mg for testosterone (in all 24 camels). Interestingly, the three racing camels displayed high concentrations of testosterone (59.2–169 pg/mg, all three camels), laurate (4.8–14.5 pg/mg, two camels), hexahydrobenzoate (116 pg/mg, one camel), decanoate (5.1 pg/mg, one camel), and valerate (11.7 pg/mg, one camel). Methods: Camel hair samples were collected from 21 non-racing dromedary camels along with three racing camels in Al Ain, UAE; these were decontaminated, pulverised, sonicated, and extracted prior to analysis. An LC–MS/MS method was employed to determine the levels of testosterone esters in the hair samples. Conclusions: This novel camel-hair test procedure is accurate, sensitive, rapid, and robust. The findings reported in this study could be significant to evaluate racing camels for suspected doping offenses. Further controlled testosterone supplementation studies are required to evaluate individual esters’ effects on camel health and diseases and on performance enhancement levels. This new hair test could promote further studies in doping control, toxicology, and pharmacology, as well as having other clinical applications relating to camel health, injury, and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number97
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • LC–MS/MS
  • hair analysis
  • liquid chromatography mass spectrometry
  • racing camels
  • testosterone
  • testosterone esters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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