Award Date

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences

First Committee Member

James Navalta

Second Committee Member

Brian Schilling

Third Committee Member

Jennifer Pharr

Fourth Committee Member

Tedd Girouard

Number of Pages



Context: Deer antler velvet has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years but has recently gained popularity in Western medicine as an ergogenic aid. According to Oriental medicine deer antler velvet can be attributed to enhancing immune system function, improving athletic performance, increasing muscle recovery, enhancing sexual function, improving disease recovery, and enhancing cardiovascular function. Deer antler velvet is orally taken in pill, powder or spray form. Although a number of health and human performance effects have been attributed to deer antler velvet the scientific rationale behind these beliefs is ambiguous Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine if sublingual capsular deer antler velvet supplementation increases IGF-1 levels in humans. Design: Double-blind study Setting: Exercise Physiology Laboratory Patients or Other Participants: Twenty-eight UNLV students (13 females, 15 males) between the ages of 18-45 volunteered to participate in this study. Inclusion criteria: men and women between the ages of 18-45, who were considered normal weight healthy adults (BMI= 20-24.9kg/m2) or obese adults (BMI>30kg/m2). Exclusion criteria included: collegiate level athletes, individuals who participate in activities where they might be drug tested as well as individuals who are drug tested for work. These individuals were excluded due to the lack of regulation by the FDA in supplementation concentration and processing. Women who were or thought they might be pregnant were excluded due to potential risk of hormonal imbalance. Twenty-two (10 females, 12 males) of the twenty-eight participants were utilized for data analysis (25.36±4.99 years old, body mass-81.89±19.4 kg, height- 173.57±10.89cm). Interventions: The independent variables for this study were deer antler velvet and placebo groups. Participants were randomly assigned to the deer antler velvet intervention or placebo intervention. Blood was drawn pre and post-supplementation using the finger stick method, it was then centrifuged and placed in a freezer located in the Exercise Physiology Lab for storage at -70 degrees Celsius. Main Outcome Measures: The main outcome measure for this study was IGF-1 levels. IGF-1 levels were analyzed using Human IGF-1 ELISA kits, manufactured by LifeSpan BioSciences, Inc. The mean optical densities provided on the ELISA plates were used to calculate post-supplementation IGF-1 concentrations. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 24. An independent t-test was used to determine the difference in IGF-1 measurements post-supplementation between the two interventions. Pearson’s correlation tests were run to analyze the relationship between post-supplementation IGF-1 levels and fat free mass, and IGF-1 levels and dairy consumption. Results: Independent t-test revealed no statistically significant difference (p=.094) post-supplementation between the deer antler velvet and placebo groups. There was no significant correlation (p=.113) between fat-free mass index and IGF-1 levels. There was also no significant correlation (p=.254) between average dairy consumption and IGF-1 levels. Conclusion: This study did not identify an increase in IGF-1 levels between the deer antler velvet and placebo groups post 7-day supplementation and did not find a meaningful correlation between dairy consumption or fat-free mass and IGF-1 levels.



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Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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