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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1999 Oct;87(4):1313-6.

Human angiotensin I-converting enzyme gene and endurance performance.

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  • 1Centre for Cardiovascular Genetics, University College London and Royal Free Hospital Medical School, Rayne Institute, London WC1E 6JJ, United Kingdom.


Human physical performance is strongly influenced by genetic factors. A variation in the structure of the human angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) gene has been reported in which the insertion (I) variant is associated with lower ACE levels than the deletion (D) gene. We have previously reported that the I variant was associated with improved endurance performance in high-altitude mountaineers and British Army recruits. We now examine this genotype distribution in 91 British Olympic-standard runners (79 Caucasians). DNA was extracted from the buccal cells contained in 10 ml of saline mouthwash donated by the subjects, and the I and D variants of the ACE gene were identified by PCR amplification of the polymorphic region. There was an increasing frequency of the I allele with distance run [0.35, 0.53, and 0.62 for </=200 m (n = 20), 400-3,000 m (n = 37), and >/=5,000 m (n = 34), respectively; P = 0.009 for linear trend]. Among 404 Olympic-standard athletes from 19 other mixed sporting disciplines (in which endurance performance was not necessarily a key factor), the I allele did not differ significantly from that found in control subjects: 0.50 vs. 0.49 (P = 0.526). These results support a positive association of the I allele with elite endurance performance.

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