The prevalence of IGF-I axis genetic polymorphisms among decathlon athletes

Sigal Ben-Zaken*, Yoav Meckel, Liina Remmel, Dan Nemet, Jaak Jürimäe, Alon Eliakim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Decathlon is a combined track and field competition, consisting of ten, mainly anaerobic events. Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF1) axis plays a pivotal role in athletes' structural and functional muscle adaptation to exercise training, and in their competitive performance. Based on the great demand for speed physiological characteristics among decathlon athletes, the aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of IGF genetic polymorphisms among decathletes, to present an optimal genetic profile for enhancing performance. Methods: The participants included 151 male athletes and 75 male non-athletic controls from Israel and Estonia. Athletes were divided into four groups, according to the field of expertise: (a) 40 sprinters and long jumpers; (b) 40 middle distance runners; (c) 44 Weightlifters; and (d) 27 decathletes. Genomic DNA was extracted from the participants' buccal epithelial cells using standard protocol and then analyzed for IGF1 axis related genetic polymorphism using the allelic discrimination assay. Results: A significantly higher prevalence of the IGF1 rs35767 TT genotype was found among decathletes compared to the other athletes, as well as a lower prevalence of the IGF1 rs7136446 GG genotype, a higher prevalence of the IGF1R rs1464430 AA genotype, and a higher prevalence of the IGF2 rs680 GG genotype. Moreover, among the decathletes, carriers of the IGF1 rs7136446 GG genotype achieved higher decathlon scores compared to A-allele carriers. Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest a potential beneficial role for some IGF-axis polymorphisms (mainly the IGF1 1245 TT and the IGF2 GG) among decathletes, both of which are associated with improved speed performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101468
JournalGrowth Hormone and IGF Research
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Athletic performance
  • Decathlon
  • Genetic polymorphism
  • IGF1 axis
  • Track and field


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