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Gene in Focus - Part 18: PPARA

Posted 504 Days Ago in: Training, Genetics

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In this week's edition of our blog, we look at PPARA, a gene that affects how well we can respond to different types of training, and as a result appears in our power-endurance algorithm. PPARA creates peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha, a protein which activates other genes, as well as being a regulator of fatty acid oxidation during exercise. The gene is activated when our cells aren’t getting enough energy, such as when we fast, or when we take part in exercise that uses up our energy stores, such as endurance exercise.

In this week's edition of our blog, we look at PPARA, a gene that affects how well we can respond to different types of training, and as a result appears in our power-endurance algorithm. PPARA creates peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha, a protein which activates other genes, as well as being a regulator of fatty acid oxidation during exercise. The gene is activated when our cells aren’t getting enough energy, such as when we fast, or when we take part in exercise that uses up our energy stores, such as endurance exercise.

 

One study that has looked at differences within this gene, and its effect on endurance performance, was published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology in 2006. In this study, the researchers looked at the PPARA gene in 786 Russian athletes across a wide range of sports, both power-based and endurance-based. It was found that the G allele was much more common in endurance athletes than power athletes; about 80% of endurance athletes had the GG genotype, compared to only 50% of the power athletes. These same researchers then took some muscle fibres from the quadriceps of 40 young men. Those that had the GG genotype of PPARA had significantly higher percentages of slow-twitch muscle fibres, the type that are better at endurance based activities, compared to CC genotypes. The same is true for Lithuanian athletes, with the G allele much more common in those taking part in endurance sports.

 

So, if the G allele is associated with increased endurance performance, might the C allele be associated with increased power performance? Well, the study from the previous paragraph would seem to suggest so; the C allele was much more prevalent in power athletes compared to endurance athletes, and CC genotypes had greater amounts of fast twitch muscle fibre, the type that is useful to power athletes, compared to GG genotypes. A 2012 study looked at the impact of this gene on strength levels of middle-school aged children, finding that the C allele was associated with greater handgrip strength compared to the G allele.

 

In conclusion, it can be seen that variation in PPARA can affect how well each individual responds to both power and endurance based training. The below table provides a summary for these effects:

 

PPARA Genotype

Training Effects

GG

This genotype is associated with improvements from endurance training; typically has higher amounts of slow twitch muscle fibres.

GC

Associated with improvements from both power and endurance training.

CC

Associated with enhanced improvements from power-based training. Typically have a greater proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibres.

 

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Gene in focus genetics Power training Endurance training Fitness Sports

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