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Hepatobiliary Pancreat Dis Int. 2015 Apr;14(2):139-44.

Beneficial mechanisms of aerobic exercise on hepatic lipid metabolism in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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Departments of Anatomy, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.



Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) refers to any fatty liver disease that is not due to excessive use of alcohol. NAFLD probably results from abnormal hepatic lipid metabolism and insulin resistance. Aerobic exercise is shown to improve NAFLD. This review aimed to evaluate the molecular mechanisms involved in the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise on NAFLD.


We searched articles in English on the role of aerobic exercise in NAFLD therapy in PubMed.


The mechanisms of chronic aerobic exercise in regulating the outcome of NAFLD include: (i) reducing intrahepatic fat content by down-regulating sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c and up-regulating peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma expression levels; (ii) decreasing hepatic oxidative stress through modulating the reactive oxygen species, and enhancing antioxidant enzymes such as catalase and glutathione peroxidase; (iii) ameliorating hepatic inflammation via the inhibition of pro-inflammatory mediators such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-1 beta; (iv) attenuating mitochondrial dependent apoptosis by reducing cytochrome C released from the mitochondria to the cytosol; and (v) inducing hepato-protective autophagy.


Aerobic exercise, via different mechanisms, significantly decreases the fat content of the liver and improves the outcomes of patients with NAFLD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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