Heritability of running economy: a study made on twin brothers.

Research paper by G G Rodas, M M Calvo, A A Estruch, E E Garrido, G G Ercilla, A A Arcas, R R Segura, J L JL Ventura

Indexed on: 03 Jul '98Published on: 03 Jul '98Published in: European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology


Running economy (RE), defined as the steady-state of oxygen uptake (VO2) for a given running velocity, is a factor of sports performance the genetic component of which has seldom been reported to date. We studied this component using a heritability index (HI) in a group of 32 male twins, 8 monozygotic (MZ) and 8 dizygotic (DZ) pairs, all sportsmen with similar perinatal and environmental backgrounds. Zygocity was determined by the identity of erythrocytic antigenic, protein and enzymatic polymorphism, and human leucocyte antigen serologic types between co-twins. The subjects exercised twice on a treadmill, once until exhaustion and again at submaximal intensities. Pulmonary gas exchange was measured continuously using an automatic analyser system during both tests. Blood samples were obtained during the recovery period to determine lactate concentrations. No significant differences were observed between MZ and DZ, in respect of RE at any speed or in maximal VO2 relative to body mass. Nevertheless, significant HI (P < 0.05) was found in maximal lactate concentrations (HI=0.75) and in respiratory equivalent for oxygen at two speeds, 7 km x h(-1) HI=0.71) and 8 km x h(-1) (HI=0.79), differences which probably suggest that there are differences in RE. In conclusion, we did not detect a genetic component in RE or in maximal oxygen uptake, but a genetic component for markers of anaerobic metabolism was present.