Association between MAPT polymorphism but not APOE promoter and elite rugby athlete status

M Antrobus, Jon Brazier, A Herbert, G Stebbings, S Day, S Heffernan, R Erskine, L Kilduff, A Williams

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Incidence and outcomes of concussions have been hypothesised to be genetically influenced. The APOE Promoter G219T (rs405509) polymorphism has been associated with differential promoter activity and unfavourable outcomes after traumatic brain injury. The TT genotype is associated with a 3-fold greater risk of multiple concussions. The TT genotype of MAPT (rs10445337) has also been associated with poorer outcomes after concussion. Rugby has one of the highest incidences of concussion in sport, so it was hypothesised that APOE Promoter TT and MAPT TT genotypes would be less prevalent in elite rugby athletes because those genotypes, previously associated with increased risk, would be less compatible with achieving elite athlete status.
Participants were from the RugbyGene project, comprising elite Caucasian male rugby athletes (n = 528; mean (standard deviation) height 1.85 (0.07) m, mass 101 (14) kg, age 29 (7) yr), including 420 rugby union (RU) athletes that for some analyses were divided into forwards and backs and 108 rugby league (RL) athletes. Non-athletes were 592 Caucasian men and women (57% male, height 1.72 (0.10) m, mass 74 (14) kg, age 31 (7) yr). PCR of genomic DNA was used to determine genotypes using TaqMan probes, then groups were compared using χ2 and odds ratio (OR) statistics.
All genotype data were in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. For MAPT (rs10445337), the risk genotype (TT) was underrepresented in rugby athletes (60%) compared to non-athletes (66%), CT more common in rugby athletes (34%) than non-athletes (29%) and little difference in CC genotype frequencies (χ2 = 7.092, P = 0.029; TT genotype frequency OR = 0.80, 95% confidence intervals (CI) = 0.62-1.02). There were no differences in MAPT (rs10445337) genotype frequencies between RU forwards and backs. For APOE Promoter G219T (rs405509), there were no differences in genotype frequencies between all athletes (RU and RL) and non-athletes (27% TT genotype in players and non-athletes), nor between RU forwards and backs.
The MAPT (rs10445337) TT genotype is 6% less common in elite rugby athletes than non-athletes. Therefore, carrying at least one rs10445337 C allele appears to increase the probability of sustained career success in the high-risk concussion environment of elite rugby, perhaps via a greater ability to recover from concussions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2018
Event23rd Annual Congress of the European College of Sports Science - Convention Centre, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 4 Jul 20187 Jul 2018


Conference23rd Annual Congress of the European College of Sports Science
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