Gene in Focus : NRF-2 for Mitochondrial Biogenesis

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Gene in Focus : NRF-2 for Mitochondrial Biogenesis

This week we look in depth at NRF-2, a gene that appears in our power-endurance panel. This gene creates nuclear respiratory factor 2, which plays a role in allowing some of the improvements that happen following endurance training, including increases in the number of mitochondria we have, a process called mitochondrial biogenesis. There are a number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within this gene, but the one we are most interested in is rs7181866, as this one has the most evidence supporting its inclusion in our panel.
One of the first studies to look at this SNP was published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine in 2007. In this bit of research, a group of Chinese men put through an 18-week endurance training program and monitored for improvements in VO2max, a measure of aerobic capacity. The G allele of the SNP of interest was found to be associated with a much higher improvement in VO2max following training than those with the A allele. These results were replicated in a group of Israeli athletes in 2009. The GG genotype was discovered to be very rare – none of the 155 athletes or 240 controls studied had it. However, the AG genotype, and hence the G allele, was significantly more likely in endurance athletes compared to both sprinters and controls, and the higher the standard of the endurance athlete, the more likely they were to have a G allele. Similar results were found in a 2012 study in Polish rowers with the G allele being more prevalent in the rowers, who are classed endurance athletes when compared to controls
Results from studies like the ones detailed above are why NRF2 forms part of the DNAFit Peak Performance Algorithm; typically, we would expect those with a G allele to see a greater improvement in fitness when following endurance exercise. This information and all that is included in the Peak Performance algorithm can be useful in helping you to discover which training works best for you, allowing you to see greater improvements in fitness. The table below summarises the main findings regarding NRF2.


NRF2 Genotype Effect
AA Not associated with enhanced improvements following endurance training.
AG Associated with greater improvements in VO2max following endurance performance. This genotype is more common in endurance athletes than sprinters or controls.
GG This genotype is very rare; an incredibly small number of people will possess it.

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