Know Your Genes: ADRB2 – “The Adrenaline Gene”
March 10, 2017
Know Your Genes: CASR – “The Calcium Gene”
March 17, 2017

Know Your Genes: – PPARGC1A

Aerobic fitness
Mitochondrial biogenesis
Fat and Carbohydrate Utilization
Conversion to Slow Twitch Fiber Type

The PPARGC1A gene is associated with the synthesis of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1a), which is associated with mitochondrial biogenesis or the production of new mitochondria within the muscle. Specific alleles of this gene are known to either increase or decrease the levels of PGC-1a. People with the A variant of the gene are found to synthesize lower amount of the protein PGC-1a, which affects endurance and aerobic fitness

Association with Running:

A study conducted on male Spanish endurance athletes and controls showed that people with the A variant of the gene were present in low frequency among the endurance athletes. A similar study conducted on Israeli endurance athletes provided the same result.

Association with Aerobic Fitness:

People with the G variant of the gene were associated with better mitochondrial biogenesis at baseline and after aerobic training, which increases aerobic capacity.  The A variant of the gene has been associated with impairment of aerobic capacity.

Association with Insulin Sensitivity:

Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. People with the G variant of the gene are associated with increased mitochondrial biogenesis in response to aerobic fitness training which increases aerobic fitness and insulin sensitivity.

Association with Lactate Threshold:

PGC-1a alters the composition of the Lactate dehydrogenase H complex and prevents the increase in blood lactate during exercise. PGC-1a has been shown to be associated with coordinating lactate homeostasis, enhancing exercise performance and improving metabolic health. In a study conducted to determine exercise mediated oxidative stress, people with A variant were found to have significantly higher lactate levels when compared with people with the G variant.






[Limitation] More likely to have lower level of PGC1

[Limitation] More likely to have lower mitochondrial biogenesis on aerobic training

[Limitation] Less likely to have increased insulin sensitivity on aerobic training

[Limitation] More likely to have decreased VO2 max

[Limitation] More likely to have higher level of blood lactate

[Limitation] Poor Endurance

  • Likely lower endurance and better suited for sprint or power training.
  • Power training exercises like power skips or fast uphill runs are recommended fitness routines.
  • Massage therapy is found to increase the level of PGC1, thereby mitochondrial biogenesis, so regular rejuvenation is recommended.

More likely to have moderate level of PGC-1 and moderate mitochondrial biogenesis

  • Include endurance based activities

[Advantage] More likely to have higher level of PGC-1

[Advantage] More likely to have higher mitochondrial biogenesis on aerobic training

[Advantage] More likely to have increased insulin sensitivity on aerobic training

[Advantage] More likely to have normal VO2 max

[Advantage] More Likely to have lower level of blood lactate

[Advantage] Better Endurance

  • Likely better endurance, so activities like playing tennis, dancing or training for a marathon is recommended.
  • Including aerobic fitness training could also improve sensitivity to insulin.


Find out which variation of the gene you carry and more at

Nutrigenetics, fitness genetics, health genetics are all nascent but rapidly growing areas within human genetics. The information provided herein is based on preliminary scientific studies and it is to be read and understood in that context.”

Amrita Surendranath
Amrita Surendranath
Amrita has a Masters in Human Genetics which fuelled her passion for genes and their diktats. She loves converting genetic research into exciting scientific news with a punch. 10 years on, her interesting insights have covered a range of topics that include cancer, diabetes, nutrition, fitness and more. A pulse on what’s interesting aids in decoding laboratory data into useful science that could empower people into molding healthier lifestyles.