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Approved Research

The Interaction Between Genetics of the Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone System and Exercise Responsiveness and Performance.

Principal Investigator: Dr Stephen Maris
Approved Research ID: 75671
Approval date: August 25th 2022

Lay summary

Structured exercise and physical activity (PA) have been shown to improve blood pressure and possibly arterial stiffness in disease populations, while also improving exercise performance in athletic populations. Although these benefits are well reported and are supported by others, many other studies indicate that when data are interpreted individually, there are varied responses to exercise programs leading to little or no BP reduction, or minimal improvements to exercise performance (Vo2max) in athletic populations. This combination of different individual results indicate the need for more personalized exercise prescriptions.

Many landmark research projects showcase that there seems to be varied responses that could be due to lack of participation, tolerance, adherence, and possible other biological factors to exercise programs. One of these factors could stem from the regulating physiological systems that control the responses in question. For example, the Renin-Angiotensin Aldosterone System (RAAS) is a system that regulates blood pressure, and genes corresponding to this system have been shown to impact Blood Pressure (BP) control. One of the most documented benefits of exercise is improvements in BP, thus perhaps there could be an interaction between genes of the RAAS and exercise responsiveness in both clinical and athletic populations. When combined with drive in the sport performance and healthcare fields towards personalized medicine and exercise prescription, the understanding of biological predisposition to treatment programs could be very beneficial. Thus, the purpose of this interdisciplinary and collaborative proposal is to address the following aims:

  1. To test the hypothesis that genes of the RAAS affect the relationship between exercise on measures of cardiovascular function in Hypertension.
  2. To determine if there is an interaction between genes of the RAAS and biological sex on measures of cardiovascular function.
  3. To test the hypothesis that genes of the RAAS can affect performance on an exercise test.

This interdisciplinary project has the hope of being completed over this next academic year and the year after, to result in multiple publications and presentations at regional and national conferences. With the assistance of a certified biostatistician at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, we believe we can accomplish this ambitious goal and provide meaningful information regarding the use of exercise programs to improve health and performance.

Completion of this project would help explore the avenues in which exercise can be used as a treatment for chronic disease, but also investigate how genetics may impact exercise performance.