Heritability estimates of endurance-related phenotypes: A systematic review and meta-analysis

E. Miyamoto-Mikami, H. Zempo, N. Fuku, N. Kikuchi, M. Miyachi, H. Murakami*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to clarify heritability estimates for endurance-related phenotypes and the underlying factors affecting these estimates. A systematic literature search was conducted for studies reporting heritability estimates of endurance-related phenotypes using the PubMed database (up to 30 September 2016). Studies that estimated the heritability of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max.), submaximal endurance phenotypes, and endurance performance were selected. The weighted mean heritability for endurance-related phenotypes was calculated using a random-effects model. A total of 15 studies were selected via a systematic review. Meta-analysis revealed that the weighted means of the heritability of VO2max absolute values and those adjusted for body weight and for fat-free mass were 0.68 (95% CI: 0.59-0.77), 0.56 (95% CI: 0.47-0.65), and 0.44 (95% CI: 0.13-0.75), respectively. There was a significant difference in the weighted means of the heritability of VO2max across these different adjustment methods (P <.05). Moreover, there was evidence of statistical heterogeneity in the heritability estimates among studies. Meta-regression analysis revealed that sex could partially explain the heterogeneity in the VO2max heritability estimates adjusted by body weight. For submaximal endurance phenotypes and endurance performance, the weighted mean heritabilities were 0.49 (95% CI: 0.33-0.65) and 0.53 (95% CI: 0.27-0.78), respectively. There was statistically significant heterogeneity in the heritability estimates reported among the studies, and we could not identify the specific factors explaining the heterogeneity. Although existing studies indicate that genetic factors account for 44%-68% of the variability in endurance-related phenotypes, further studies are necessary to clarify these values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)834-845
Number of pages12
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar
Externally publishedYes


  • exercise tolerance
  • heredity
  • maximal oxygen uptake
  • physical endurance
  • physical fitness
  • submaximal aerobic performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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