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Br J Sports Med. 2006 Dec;40(12):998-1002. Epub 2006 Sep 21.

Polymorphisms in the HBB gene relate to individual cardiorespiratory adaptation in response to endurance training.

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Biology Center, China Institute of Sport Science, Beijing, China.



The crucial role of haemoglobin in endurance performance has been well documented. We examined whether polymorphisms in the HBB gene modified aerobic capacity.


102 recruits were trained by running 5000 m three times per week for 18 weeks. Exercise intensity progressively increased from an initial heart rate corresponding to 95% of the individual baseline ventilatory threshold during the first 10 weeks to 105% during the last 8 weeks. The phenotypes measured were running economy and VO(2)max. Running economy was determined by measuring submaximal VO(2) for 5 min at a constant running speed of 12 km.h(-1) and VO(2)max was obtained during an incremental test to exhaustion. Genomic DNA was extracted from white cells of peripheral blood and the -551C/T, intron2,+16C/G and +340 A/T genotypes were examined relative to the TAA site variants by PCR-RFLP.


Genotype distributions were in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium at three loci. None of the running economy and VO(2)max-related traits were associated with the three polymorphisms or haplotypes at baseline, while the training response of running economy was associated with -551C/T and intron2,+16C/G polymorphisms. Subjects homozygous for intron2,+16C/C or -551C/C had decreased oxygen cost of running compared to the other individuals.


It was concluded that the -551C/C or intron2,+16C/C genotype might explain part of the individual variation in the cardiorespiratory adaptation to endurance training.

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