Feel like you’re prone to more injuries? Perhaps your DNA is to blame.

Injuries of the muscle and bone are common, especially among athletes. It’s well-known that a person’s diet and training status are crucial influences of injury risk, but recent studies have also shown that small variations in the DNA can also make a difference. If you enjoy sports or just moving around, knowing how genetically susceptible you are to suffering injuries is important because this information can help you tailor your training schedule to your specific needs.

So how are genes involved in this? Comparing Italian professional football players and Italian healthy male controls, Massidda and colleagues found that differences in the alpha-actinin-3 (ACTN3) gene (which codes for the alpha-actinin-3 protein involved in muscle movement) were significantly linked to indirect muscle injuries. Note that, in this study, indirect muscle injury was defined as when a player’s physical complaint is enough to keep them from a game or training for at least one day after the symptoms arise, and injury severity was defined as the number of days the player could not practice.

Those with the XX gene variant (or completely alpha-actinin-3 deficient individuals) were more than 2.5 times more prone to injury and more than two times more likely to experience severe injury than those with the RR gene variant. This seems to make sense with what we know about the protein: people with less alpha-actinin-3 have no major muscle structure problems because of greater levels of alpha-actinin-2 (another protein involved in muscle movement), but these individuals tend to have less muscle strength. The investigators hypothesize that, during rigorous physical activity, alpha-actinin-2 can’t completely compensate for the lower levels of alpha-actinin-3.

Since this is the first study about how alpha-actinin-3 deficiency may be related to the incidence and severity of injuries, more research using a larger sample is underway. Want to learn more about the study? Check out the article with this link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28817413

How genetically vulnerable are you to suffering more frequent and severe injuries? Find out on Genomelink now!

Photo by Payam Tahery on Unsplash



Incidence and Severity of Injuries

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