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Peroxysome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1-alpha (PGC-1α; encoded by the gene PPARGC1A in humans) is a crucial component in training-induced muscle adaptation because it is a co-activator of transcriptional factors that control gene expression in coordinated response to exercise. It has been suggested that a Gly482Ser substitution in PPARGC1A has functional relevance in the context of human disorders and athletic performance. To test this hypothesis, we examined the genotype distribution of PPARGC1A Gly482Ser in a group of Polish athletes and confirmed the results obtained in a replication study of Russian athletes. We found that the 482Ser allele was under-represented in the cohort of Polish and Russian athletes examined compared with unfit controls (P < 0.0001). A statistically significant low frequency of the 482Ser allele was observed among the endurance,strength-endurance, and sprint-strength groups of Polish athletes (P = 0.019, P = 0.022, and P < 0.0001, respectively). The replication study revealed that the 482Ser allele was also less prevalent in Russian endurance and strength-endurance athletes (P = 0.029 and P < 0.0001, respectively). Our results suggest that the PPARGC1A Gly482Ser polymorphism is associated with elite endurance athletic status. These findings support the hypothesis that the PPARGC1A 482Ser allele may impair aerobic capacity: thus, the Gly482 allele may be considered a beneficial factor for endurance performance.

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