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Gene in Focus: Part 15 - IL-6

Posted 586 Days Ago in: Training, Genetics


This week, we turn our attention to IL-6, a gene that appears in a number of our trait reports – it can affect the power-endurance response, recovery speed, injury risk, and omega-3 requirements.

The IL-6 gene can play a role in determining how much interleukin-6 (IL-6) you might produce, either at resting or as a response to exercise. IL-6 causes inflammation, and those with the C allele of this gene are likely to have higher levels of inflammation than those with the G allele. This can affect both recovery, injury risk, and how well you respond to power training. This latter point was reported in a study published in 2010, looking at different genotypes of this gene in elite Spanish power and endurance athletes. It was found that the G allele was more common in elite power athletes compared to the endurance athletes, allowing the researchers to conclude that it plays a role in response to power training. Similar results were found in a 2013 study comparing elite power athletes with non-athletes. Once again, the G allele was significantly more common in the power athletes compared to the non-athletes.


In terms of recovery, this gene can play in role in determining how much time you need between your hardest sessions. A study published in 2008  got a group of subjects to do some bicep curls to failure, focusing on lowering the weight as slowly as possible, in order to damage the muscle. They then measured markers of muscle damage found in the blood, such as creatine kinase (CK), and found that the CC genotype of IL-6 had the highest levels of CK, and those with the GG genotype had the lowest, indicating that GG genotypes recover the quickest.


Finally, we have IL-6 and its role in general health. Because IL-6 can drive inflammation, it has been implicated in a number of diseases that are inflammatory in nature, including coronary heart disease. A paper from 2001 showed that those with the C allele of this gene had an increased risk of coronary heart disease and hypertension compared to G allele carriers. If we know this, then we can recommend higher amounts of omega-3, which has anti-inflammatory effects within the body. If we see that you have a risk allele of IL-6 or TNF, another gene with inflammatory effects, DNAFit will recommend extra amounts of omega-3 above the recommended daily allowance of 1.6g per day; in this case, up to 3g of omega-3 per day.


IL-6 Genotype

Effect on Fitness

Effect on Diet


Associated with lower levels of inflammation after hard training sessions, leading to quicker recovery times. Also associated with adaptations to power training.

Associated with normal levels of inflammation – doesn’t require any additional omega-3s.


Associated with a slightly higher inflammatory response to hard exercise, which in turn might affect recovery times.

Associated with a moderately increased amount of inflammation – consume slightly more omega-3 than the RDA; aim for 2g per day.


Associated with higher levels of inflammation following hard exercise – as such might require longer rest periods between training sessions. Not associated with favourable improvements to power-based training.

Associated with an increased amount of inflammation – aim for 3g of omega-3 per day.



Gene in Focus Power training Endurance training Recovery Exercise Injury Risk Fitness


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