Increased Prevalence of the IL-6 -174C Genetic Polymorphism in Long Distance Swimmers

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Sigal Ben-Zaken, Yoav Meckel, Dan Nemet, Eias Kassem, Alon Eliakim

The IL-6 -174G/C single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) functionally affects IL-6 activity, with the G-allele associated with increased IL-6 levels. The C-allele was found to be associated with exercise-induced skeletal muscle damage. The aim of the present study was to examine the association between the IL-6 -174G/C polymorphism and athletic performance among elite swimmers and runners. The study sample included 180 track and field athletes and 80 swimmers. Track and field athletes were assigned to three sub-groups: long-distance runners, middle-distance runners and short-distance runners. Swimmers were assigned to two subgroups: long-distance swimmers and short-distance swimmers. The control group consisted of 123 non-athletic healthy individuals. Genomic DNA was extracted from peripheral blood following a standard protocol. Genotyping was performed using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The CC genotype and C-allele frequency were significantly higher in the long-distance swimmers (18 and 43%, respectively) compared to the long-distance runners (3 and 14%, respectively, p < 0.001); middle-distance runners (4 and 22%, respectively, p < 0.001); and controls (5 and 19%, respectively, p < 0.001). In addition, the CC genotype and C-allele frequency were significantly higher (p < 0.001) in long-distance swimmers compared to short-distance swimmers (18 versus 5% and 43 versus 29% for the CC genotype and C-allele frequency, respectively). The higher frequency of the C-allele and CC genotype among long-distance swimmers suggests that the rarity of exercise-associated rhabdomyolysis among swimmers is probably related to other sports-specific or water-related protective mechanisms. It is possible that swimming selection in talented endurance athletes who are C-allele carriers represents an example of genetically-dependent sports selection
DOI: 10.1515/hukin-2017-0070
Key words
IL-6, genetic polymorphism, swimmers, track and field athletes

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