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Concussion-Associated Polygenic Profiles of Elite Male Rugby Athletes

Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University Institute of Sport, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester M1 7EL, UK
Sport and Exercise Science, University of Northampton, Northampton NN1 5PH, UK
Department of Psychology and Sports Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield AL10 9AB, UK
Research Centre for Life and Sport Sciences (C-LaSS), School of Health Sciences, Birmingham City University, Birmingham B15 3TN, UK
School of Medicine and Clinical Practice, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton WV1 1LY, UK
Applied Sports Science Technology and Medicine Research Centre (A-STEM), College of Engineering, Swansea University, Swansea SA1 8EN, UK
Research Institute for Sport & Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK
Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
Cardiovascular and Lifestyle Medicine Research Group, CSELS, Coventry University, Coventry CV1 5FB, UK
Health through Physical Activity, Lifestyle and Sport Research Centre (HPALS), Department of Human Biology, and the International Federation of Sports Medicine (FIMS) Collaborative Centre of Sports Medicine, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, Cape Town 7701, South Africa
FIMS Reference Collaborating Centre of Sports Medicine for Anti-Doping Research, University of Brighton, Brighton BN20 7SP, UK
Centre for Exercise Sciences and Sports Medicine, FIMS Collaborating Centre of Sports Medicine, Piazza L. de Bosis 6, 00135 Rome, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Naoki Kikuchi and Ildus I. Ahmetov
Genes 2022, 13(5), 820;
Received: 5 April 2022 / Revised: 27 April 2022 / Accepted: 28 April 2022 / Published: 4 May 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Basis of Sports Athletes)
Due to the high-velocity collision-based nature of elite rugby league and union, the risk of sustaining a concussion is high. Occurrence of and outcomes following a concussion are probably affected by the interaction of multiple genes in a polygenic manner. This study investigated whether suspected concussion-associated polygenic profiles of elite rugby athletes differed from non-athletes and between rugby union forwards and backs. We hypothesised that a total genotype score (TGS) using eight concussion-associated polymorphisms would be higher in elite rugby athletes than non-athletes, indicating selection for protection against incurring or suffering prolonged effects of, concussion in the relatively high-risk environment of competitive rugby. In addition, multifactor dimensionality reduction was used to identify genetic interactions. Contrary to our hypothesis, TGS did not differ between elite rugby athletes and non-athletes (p ≥ 0.065), nor between rugby union forwards and backs (p = 0.668). Accordingly, the TGS could not discriminate between elite rugby athletes and non-athletes (AUC ~0.5), suggesting that, for the eight polymorphisms investigated, elite rugby athletes do not have a more ‘preferable’ concussion-associated polygenic profile than non-athletes. However, the COMT (rs4680) and MAPT (rs10445337) GC allele combination was more common in rugby athletes (31.7%; p < 0.001) and rugby union athletes (31.8%; p < 0.001) than non-athletes (24.5%). Our results thus suggest a genetic interaction between COMT (rs4680) and MAPT (rs10445337) assists rugby athletes in achieving elite status. These findings need exploration vis-à-vis sport-related concussion injury data and could have implications for the management of inter-individual differences in concussion risk. View Full-Text
Keywords: rugby; genotype; concussion; brain; polymorphism; genetics rugby; genotype; concussion; brain; polymorphism; genetics
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MDPI and ACS Style

Antrobus, M.R.; Brazier, J.; Callus, P.C.; Herbert, A.J.; Stebbings, G.K.; Khanal, P.; Day, S.H.; Kilduff, L.P.; Bennett, M.A.; Erskine, R.M.; Raleigh, S.M.; Collins, M.; Pitsiladis, Y.P.; Heffernan, S.M.; Williams, A.G. Concussion-Associated Polygenic Profiles of Elite Male Rugby Athletes. Genes 2022, 13, 820.

AMA Style

Antrobus MR, Brazier J, Callus PC, Herbert AJ, Stebbings GK, Khanal P, Day SH, Kilduff LP, Bennett MA, Erskine RM, Raleigh SM, Collins M, Pitsiladis YP, Heffernan SM, Williams AG. Concussion-Associated Polygenic Profiles of Elite Male Rugby Athletes. Genes. 2022; 13(5):820.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Antrobus, Mark R., Jon Brazier, Peter C. Callus, Adam J. Herbert, Georgina K. Stebbings, Praval Khanal, Stephen H. Day, Liam P. Kilduff, Mark A. Bennett, Robert M. Erskine, Stuart M. Raleigh, Malcolm Collins, Yannis P. Pitsiladis, Shane M. Heffernan, and Alun G. Williams. 2022. "Concussion-Associated Polygenic Profiles of Elite Male Rugby Athletes" Genes 13, no. 5: 820.

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