Genetic association research in football: A systematic review

McAuley, Alexander B.T. and Hughes, David C. and Tsaprouni, Loukia and Varley, Ian and Suraci, Bruce and Roos, Thomas R. and Herbert, Adam J. and Kelly, Adam L. (2020) Genetic association research in football: A systematic review. European Journal of Sport Science. ISSN 1746-1391

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Genetic variation is responsible for a large amount of the inter-individual performance disparities seen in sport. As such, in the last ten years genetic association studies have become more common; with one of the most frequently researched sports being football. However, the progress and methodological rigour of genetic association research in football is yet to be evaluated. Therefore, the aim of this paper was to identify and evaluate all genetic association studies involving football players and outline where and how future research should be directed. Firstly, a systematic search was conducted in the Pubmed and SPORTDiscus databases, which identified 80 eligible studies. Progression analysis revealed that 103 distinct genes have been investigated across multiple disciplines; however, research has predominately focused on the association of the ACTN3 or ACE gene. Furthermore, 55% of the total studies have been published within the last four years; showcasing that genetic association research in football is increasing at a substantial rate. However, there are several methodological inconsistencies which hinder research implications, such as; inadequate description or omission of ethnicity and on-field positions. Furthermore, there is a limited amount of research on several key areas crucial to footballing performance, in particular; psychological related traits. Moving forward, improved research designs, larger sample sizes, and the utilisation of genome-wide and polygenic profiling approaches are recommended. Finally, we introduce the Football Gene Project, which aims to address several of these limitations and ultimately facilitate greater individualised athlete development within football.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
28 May 2020Accepted
28 May 2020Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Genetics, genomics, football, soccer, polymorphism, review‌
Subjects: CAH03 - biological and sport sciences > CAH03-02 - sport and exercise sciences > CAH03-02-01 - sport and exercise sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: Adam Kelly
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2020 14:15
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 15:37

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