Liver-Metabolizing Genes and Their Relationship to the Performance of Elite Spanish Male Endurance Athletes; a Prospective Transversal Study

Sports Med Open. 2019 Dec 9;5(1):50. doi: 10.1186/s40798-019-0227-7.


Background: The genetic profile that is needed to define an endurance athlete has been studied during recent years. The main objective of this work is to approach for the first time the study of genetic variants in liver-metabolizing genes and their role in endurance performance by comparing the allelic and genotypic frequencies in elite endurance athletes to the non-athlete population.

Methods: Genotypic and allelic frequencies were determined in 123 elite endurance athletes (75 professional road cyclists and 48 endurance elite runners) and 122 male non-athlete subjects (sedentary). Genotyping of cytochrome P450 family 2 subfamily D member 6 (CYP2D6 rs3892097), glutathione-S transferase mu isoform 1 (GSTM1), glutathione S-transferase pi (GSTP rs1695) and glutathione S-transferase theta (GSTT) genes was performed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The combination of the polymorphisms for the "optimal" polygenic profile has been quantified using the genotype score (GS).

Results: Statistical differences were found in the genetic distributions between elite endurance athletes and non-athletes in CYP2D6 (p < 0.001) and GSTT (p = 0.014) genes. The binary logistic regression model showed a favourable OR (odds ratio) of being an elite endurance runner against a professional road cyclist (OR: 2.403, 95% CI: 1.213-4.760 (p = 0.002)) in the polymorphisms studied.

Conclusions: Genotypic distribution of liver-metabolizing genes in elite endurance athletes is different to non-athlete subjects, with a favourable gene profile in elite endurance athletes in terms of detoxification capacity.

Keywords: CYP2D6; Cytochrome p 450; Glutathione transferases; Performance; Physical endurance; Sports.