Polymorphism of the IGF-I system and sports performance

Sigal Ben-Zaken, Yoav Meckel, Dan Nemet, Nitzan Dror, Alon Eliakim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The potential use genetic polymorphism, and in particularly polymorphism of hormone genes, as a tool to predict athletic performance is currently very challenging. Recent studies suggest that single nucleotide polymorphisms in IGF-I and myostatin may be beneficial for endurance and short distance running, and may even be associated with elite performance. Polymorphism in IGF-I receptor may differentiate between the two edges of the endurance-power athletic performance running spectrum suggesting beneficial effects for endurance and prevent from success in power events. In contrast, and despite similar metabolic demands, the myostatin-IGF-I-IGF-IR system seems not to play an important role in swimming excellence. This suggests that combining different sport disciplines for sports genetic research purposes should be done with extreme caution. Finally, since any phenotype reflects a complex relationship between genes, environment, epigenetic factors, and the interactions between them, consulting the young athlete regarding future success cannot be based solely on genetic polymorphism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-748
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Endocrinology Reviews
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2016


  • IGF
  • IGF receptor
  • Myostatin
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism
  • Sport


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