MOLECULAR-GENETIC PREDICTIONS IN SELECTION OF SPORT TALENTS AND ETHICAL ASPECT OF THEIR APPLICATION

Zoran T. Popovski, Macdonald Wick, Aleksandar Tufekchievski, Srecko Gjorgjievski, Tome Nestorovski, Aleksandar Aceski

The genetic basis of complex athletic phenotypes is still poorly understood and difficult to study. The molecular basis of genetic variation related to sport performances resides in both nuclear (nDNA) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Variabilities in skeletal lengths, skeletal breadths, limb circumferences, and bone mass is genetically determined. In nDNA, relevant gene variants include the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), actin 3 (ACTN3), myostatin (MSTN), insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), phosphoenolypyruvate carboxykinases (PEPCK) and erythropoietin (EPO), among others. Genetic factors account for ~40–60% of the variation in aerobic performance and cardiac function, 50–90% of the variation in anaerobic performance, 30–70% of the variation in muscular fitness, and 20–30% of the variation in muscle dimensions. Adaptive polymorphisms in mtDNA may directly affect maximum performance capacity. Four obligations of professional ethics for the researcher interacting with the application of molecular tools are: autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. Talent selection is difficult in children although it could guide early exposure to sport-specific training. Recent advances in scientific knowledge and the availability of modern technology could provide an opportunity for the direct genetic selection of athletic talent. Early talent identification and selection is institutionalized for many sports around the world. Although unique combinations of genetic and environmental factors result in elite-level performance, these factors are complicated and generally unpredictable. The question is whether genetic screening techniques are able to identify an innate advantage as part of talent identification programs and is the focus of this review

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