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Open Access The Effects of Physical Exercise on Fatty Liver Disease

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The increasing prevalence of obesity has made nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) the most common chronic liver disease. As a consequence, NAFLD and especially its inflammatory form nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are the fastest increasing etiology of end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma. Physical inactivity is related to the severity of fatty liver disease irrespective of body weight, supporting the hypothesis that increasing physical activity through exercise can improve fatty liver disease. This review summarizes the evidence for the effects of physical exercise on NAFLD and NASH. Several clinical trials have shown that both aerobic and resistance exercise reduce the hepatic fat content. From clinical and basic scientific studies, it is evident that exercise affects fatty liver disease through various pathways. Improved peripheral insulin resistance reduces the excess delivery of free fatty acids and glucose for free fatty acid synthesis to the liver. In the liver, exercise increases fatty acid oxidation, decreases fatty acid synthesis, and prevents mitochondrial and hepatocellular damage through a reduction of the release of damage-associated molecular patterns. In conclusion, physical exercise is a proven therapeutic strategy to improve fatty liver disease.
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Keywords: Aerobic exercise; Lipid metabolism; Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH); Resistance exercise

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Publication date: May 18, 2018

This article was made available online on December 6, 2017 as a Fast Track article with title: "The Effects of Physical Exercise on Fatty Liver Disease".

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  • Gene Expression, The Journal of Liver Research will publish articles in all aspects of hepatology. Hepatology, as a research discipline, has seen unprecedented growth especially in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of hepatic health and disease, which continues to have a major impact on understanding liver development, stem cells, carcinogenesis, tissue engineering, injury, repair, regeneration, immunology, metabolism, fibrosis, and transplantation. Continued research and improved understanding in these areas will have a meaningful impact on liver disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The existing journal Gene Expression has expanded its focus to become Gene Expression, The Journal of Liver Research to meet this growing demand. In its revised and expanded scope, the journal will publish high-impact original articles, reviews, short but complete articles, and special articles (editorials, commentaries, opinions) on all aspects of hepatology, making it a unique and invaluable resource for readers interested in this field. The expanded team, led by an Editor-in-Chief who is uniquely qualified and a renowned expert, along with a dynamic and functional editorial board, is determined to make this a premier journal in the field of hepatology.
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