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Polymorphisms in the HBB gene relate to individual cardiorespiratory adaptation in response to endurance training
  1. Z He1,
  2. Y Hu2,
  3. L Feng1,
  4. Y Lu1,
  5. G Liu2,
  6. Y Xi3,
  7. L Wen3,
  8. X Xu2,
  9. K Xu2
  1. 1Biology Center, China Institute of Sport Science, Beijing, China
  2. 2Department of Sport and Human Sciences, Beijing Sport University, Beijing, China
  3. 3Department of Sport and Human Sciences, Tianjin Institute of Physical Education, Tianjin, China
  1. Correspondence to:
 Yang Hu
 Section of Exercise Biochemistry, Department of Sport and Human Sciences, Beijing Sport University, Beijing 100084, China; bsugene{at}


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

Methods: 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 VO2max. Running economy was determined by measuring submaximal VO2 for 5 min at a constant running speed of 12 km·h−1 and VO2max 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.

Results: Genotype distributions were in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium at three loci. None of the running economy and VO2max-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.

Discussion: 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.

  • ATP, adenosine 5′-triphosphate
  • LBM, lean body mass
  • RER, respiratory exchange ratio
  • TBM, total body mass
  • UTR, untranslated region
  • haplotype
  • polymorphism
  • running economy
  • training
  • VO2max

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  • Published Online First 21 September 2006

  • Competing interests: None declared.