Improved hepatic lipid composition following short-term exercise in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Jacob M Haus, Thomas P J Solomon, Karen R Kelly, Ciaran E Fealy, Emily L Kullman, Amanda R Scelsi, Lan Lu, Mangesh R Pagadala, Arthur J McCullough, Chris A Flask, John P Kirwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


CONTEXT: Hepatic steatosis, insulin resistance, inflammation, low levels of polyunsaturated lipids, and adiponectin are implicated in the development and progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

OBJECTIVE: We examined the effects of short-term aerobic exercise on these metabolic risk factors.

DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: Obese individuals (N = 17, 34.3 ± 1.0 kg/m²) with clinically confirmed NAFLD were enrolled in a short-term aerobic exercise program that consisted of 7 consecutive days of treadmill walking at ~85% of maximal heart rate for 60 minutes per day. Preintervention and postintervention measures included hepatic triglyceride content, and a lipid saturation index and polyunsaturated lipid index (PUI) of the liver, obtained by (1)H magnetic resonance spectroscopy (N = 14). Insulin sensitivity was estimated from an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), and mononuclear cells were isolated to assess reactive oxygen species production during the OGTT. Circulating glucose, insulin, and high molecular weight (HMW) adiponectin were determined from plasma.

MAIN OUTCOME: Short-term aerobic exercise training improved hepatic lipid composition in patients with NAFLD.

RESULTS: Exercise training resulted in an increase in liver PUI (P < .05), increased insulin sensitivity (Matsuda Index: P < .05), HMW adiponectin (P < .05), and maximal oxygen consumption (P < .05). Reactive oxygen species production during the OGTT was reduced following exercise training (P < .05). HMW adiponectin was increased after the exercise program and the increase was positively correlated with the increase in liver PUI (r = 0.52, P = .05). Body weight remained stable during the program (P > .05).

CONCLUSION: Short-term exercise can target hepatic lipid composition, which may reduce the risk of NAFLD progression. The improvement in hepatic lipid composition may be driven by adiponectin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1181-8
JournalThe Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Adiponectin
  • Biological Markers
  • Body Mass Index
  • Exercise
  • Fatty Liver
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Liver
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Weight
  • Motor Activity
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Obesity
  • Ohio
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides
  • Walking


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