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Exp Physiol. 2007 Sep;92(5):881-6. Epub 2007 Jul 13.

The ACE deletion allele is associated with Israeli elite endurance athletes.

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  • 1Heart Failure Service, Lin Medical Center, Department of Cardiology, Lady Davis Carmel Medical Center, Michal 7 Street, Haifa, Israel.


An Alu insertion (I)/deletion (D) polymorphism in the angiotensin I converting enzyme (ACE) gene has been associated with ACE activity. Opposing effects on elite athletic performance have been proposed for the I and D alleles; while the D allele favours improved endurance ability, the I allele promotes more power-orientated events. We tested this hypothesis by determining the frequency of ACE ID alleles amongst 121 Israeli top-level athletes classified by their sporting discipline (marathon runners or sprinters). Genotyping for ACE ID was performed using polymerase chain reaction on DNA from leucocytes. The ACE genotype and allele frequencies were compared with those of 247 healthy individuals. Allele and genotype frequencies differed significantly between the groups. The frequency of the D allele was 0.77 in the marathon runners, 0.66 in the control subjects (P = 0.01) and 0.57 in the sprinters (P = 0.002). The ACE DD genotype was more prevalent among the endurance athletes (0.62) than among the control subjects (0.43, P = 0.004) and the power athletes (0.34, P = 0.004). In the group of elite athletes, the odds ratio of ACE DD genotype being an endurance athlete was 3.26 (95% confidence interval 1.49-7.11), and of ACE II genotype was 0.41 (95% confidence interval 0.14-1.19). We conclude that in Israeli elite marathon runners the frequency of the ACE D allele and ACE DD genotype seems to be higher than in sprinters, suggesting a positive association between the D allele and the likelihood of being an elite endurance athlete in some ethnic groups.

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