Genetic variations in the dopamine reward system influence exercise reinforcement and tolerance for exercise intensity

Kyle Flack, Christopher Pankey, Kelsey Ufholz, L. Johnson, James N. Roemmich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background:: Exercise is a reinforcing behavior and finding exercise highly reinforcing is characteristic of habitual exercisers. Genotypes related to dopamine metabolism moderate the reinforcing value of behaviors, but genetic moderators of exercise reinforcement have not been established. Purpose:: Determine whether singular nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that moderate central reward pathways and pain neurotransmission are associated with exercise reinforcement, tolerance for exercise intensity, and usual physical activity. Methods:: Adults (n = 178) were measured for the reinforcing value of exercise relative to sedentary activities (RRVexercise), minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and completed the Preference for and Tolerance of the Intensity of Exercise Questionnaire. Genotyping of 23 SNPs known to influence central dopamine tone, pain, or physical activity was performed. ANOVA tested differences in RRVexercise, tolerance, and MVPA among genotype groups. Linear regression controlling for BMI, sex, and liking of exercise was used to further predict the association of genotype on RRVexercise, tolerance, and MVPA. Results:: Having at least one copy of the G allele for the DRD2/ANKK1 polymorphism (rs1800497) conferred greater RRVexercise. Greater tolerance for exercise intensity was observed among those homozygous for the T allele for the CNR1 polymorphism (rs6454672), had at least one copy of the G allele for the GABRG3 polymorphism (rs8036270), or had at least one copy of the T allele for the LPR polymorphism (rs12405556). Homozygous individuals for the T allele at rs6454672 exhibited greater MVPA. Conclusion:: Similar to other reinforcing behaviors, there is a genetic contribution to exercise reinforcement, tolerance for exercise intensity, and MVPA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112148
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Volume375
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 16 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, and Project 3062-51000-051-00D. Mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations does not imply endorsement from the U.S. government. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer The authors would like to thank Doreen Rolshoven, Jackie Nelson and student interns for their assistance with implementation of the protocol, data collection and data entry.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Dopamine
  • Exercise
  • Physical activity
  • SNPs
  • Tolerance for exercise intensity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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