HEALTHY LIVING
09/30/2013 08:21 am ET

Gene Variant More Common In 'Power Sport' Athletes, Study Finds

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The world's elite "power sport" athletes -- including short-distance runners and power-lifters -- may all have something in common: A specific gene variant.

However, this gene variant doesn't seem to exist in people who aren't athletes, nor in elite endurance athletes.

The findings, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, are based on analysis of DNA samples from 100 power-sport athletes (including jumpers, short-distance runners and power-lifters), 123 endurance athletes (including swimmers, rowers and long-distance runners) and 344 nonathletes. All of the athletes in the study were elite athletes, having competed on an international level before, such as in the Olympic Games or other world championships.

Researchers found that 40 percent of the power sport athletes had two copies of the "C" allele on the AGT gene (to have two copies of the "C" allele means both parents passed along their "C" alleles to the offspring). Meanwhile, just 13 percent of elite endurance athletes and 18 percent of the nonathletes had this particular genotype.

Plus, the power sport athletes were more likely to even have just one copy of the "C" allele than the others, with 55.5 percent of power athletes having just one C allele, compared with 40 percent of the others.

However, researchers did not find any genotype differences between athletes who ended up winning medals in the world competitions, versus those who did not medal.

The AGT gene is known to play a role in the regulation of body salt, fluid balance and blood pressure. While researchers said more study is needed before determining how exactly a "CC" genotype can affect strength, they noted that it could potentially promote angiotensin II production, which affects muscle performance.

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