Gene in Focus: AGT or Angiotensinogen

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Gene in Focus: AGT or Angiotensinogen

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This week, we turn our attention in this blog to AGT, a gene that appears in both our fitness and diet reports. This gene plays a role in how well we respond to power-based training, and so appears in our power-endurance profile, and also plays a role in blood pressure control, and hence appears in our salt sensitivity section. AGT is similar to ACE, a gene we looked at earlier in this series, in that it creates a protein that can cause our blood pressure to go up or down – the protein, in this case being called angiotensinogen.
One of the studies showing the effect of this gene on training response was published in 2009. Researchers from Madrid University got a group of elite Spanish power athletes, endurance athletes, and non-athletes, and looked for differences in AGT genotype between the groups. The CC genotype of AGT was significantly higher in the power group of athletes than either the endurance or non-athlete groups. If a subject had the CC genotype, they were about 1.6 times more likely to be in the power group than any of the others. The mechanism behind this is that those with the C allele of this gene have higher levels of angiotensinogen in the blood.
This, in turn leads to higher levels of angiotensin II, similar to the D allele of ACE. As angiotensin II is a growth factor for muscles, higher levels of it would likely lead to greater muscle growth following strength training – which is why it’s more common in elite power athletes, and in turn would lead to an increased response to strength training in those looking to gain muscle.
Whilst the AGT C allele is associated with an increased response to power-based training, it’s also linked to an increased sensitivity to salt. A study from 1997 showed that the C allele was associated with an increased risk overall of hypertension, whilst later studies showed that a reduction of sodium, the main ingredient in salt, reduced blood pressure to a greater extent in C allele carriers than T allele carriers, showing that sodium reduction can be very important to C allele carriers.
The table below summarises the effects of the different AGT genotypes in terms of both response to training, and salt sensitivity:
AGT Genotype
Training Response
Sodium Sensitivity
CC
Associated with an enhanced improvement to power and strength based training.
Associated with an increased risk of developing hypertension, particularly when salt intake is high. C allele carriers should limit their sodium intake.
CT
A moderate form of CC; smaller improvements expected as a response to strength and power training.
Associated with an increased risk of developing hypertension, particularly when salt intake is high. C allele carriers should limit their sodium intake.
TT
No enhanced improvements following strength and power training.
Not associated with an increased sensitivity to sodium with regards to hypertension.

 

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