ACTN3 R577X Polymorphism Is Associated With the Incidence and Severity of Injuries in Professional Football Players

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Abstract

Objective:

The ACTN3 R577X gene variant results in the absence of the α-actinin-3 protein in ∼18% of humans worldwide and has been associated with athletic performance and increased susceptibility to eccentric muscle damage. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between ACTN3 R577X variant and indirect muscle disorders/injuries in professional football players.

Design:

A case–control, genotype–phenotype association study.

Intervention:

Two hundred fifty-seven male professional Italian football players (from Serie A, Primavera, Allievi, and Giovanissimi; age = 21.2 ± 5.3 years) and 265 nonathletic controls were recruited for the study. Genomic DNA was extracted using a buccal swab, and the ACTN3 R577X genotype was performed using a PCR method. Structural–mechanical injuries and functional muscle disorders were collected from a subgroup of 169 football players during the period of 2009 to 2014.

Main Outcome Measure:

We hypothesized that the 577XX genotype would be associated with higher predisposition to muscle injuries (compared with the other genotypes).

Results:

ACTN3 XX (α-actinin-3 deficiency) players had 2.66 higher odds for an injury incidence than their ACTN3 RR counterparts (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.09-6.63, P = 0.02), whereas RX and RR players had similar injury incidence. Furthermore, ACTN3 XX players had 2.13 higher odds for having a severe injury compared with their RR counterparts (95% CI: 1.25-3.74, P = 0.0054), whereas RX individuals had 1.63 higher odds for having a severe injury compared with the RR players (95% CI: 1.10-2.40, P = 0.015).

Conclusions:

The ACTN3 R577X polymorphism is associated with the incidence and severity of muscle injuries in professional football players; players with the ACTN3 577XX genotype have higher odds of having muscle injuries than their RR counterparts.

Clinical Relevance:

Discovering the complex relationship between gene variants and muscle injuries may assist coaches, physiologists, and the medical community to development tailored injury prevention program for football players, which could provide a new edge for successful competition.

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