Mar 21

The stress of competition: a novel cortisol assay

case study_blood sweat tearsStress biomarkers, such as cortisol, are often used to monitor the effectiveness of an athlete’s training regime. However, levels of cortisol change quickly following exercise and so need to be monitored trackside to determine whether an athlete needs to be rested or whether they can train further and harder the next day.

Researchers at LGC have developed a unique new assay for detecting both free and total cortisol within human serum using a transportable platform technology. In collaboration with the English Institute of Sport, the assays were evaluated using blood samples from athletes (pre- and post-training) at Loughborough University via a pin prick to the finger.

Our approach successfully eliminates the need for sample processing and reduces the analyte incubation to minutes, negating the need to transit samples to laboratories and providing athletes with further information (percentage active cortisol).

This may in the future provide more robust results for athletes on which to base their training decisions and help increase the return on investment on the hundreds of millions of pounds spent on UK elite athletes.


Read our recent paper to discover how we transferred this assay across to a portable Raman platform in collaboration with Centre for Molecular Nanometrology at the University of Strathclyde:

Read our case study to find out more.


Gracie K, Pang S, Jones GM, Faulds K, Braybrook J, Graham D. Detection of cortisol in serum using quantitative resonance Raman spectroscopy (2017) Anal Methods 9:1589-1594. DOI:10.1039/C6AY03296F


LGC, the UK National Measurement Laboratory and Designated Institute for chemical and bio-measurement

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