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Hepatol Res. 2017 Mar;47(3):E22-E34. doi: 10.1111/hepr.12718. Epub 2016 May 5.

Effects of in-hospital exercise on liver function, physical ability, and muscle mass during treatment of hepatoma in patients with chronic liver disease.

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Division of Rehabilitation, Kurume University Hospital, Kurume, Japan.
Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Kurume University School of Medicine, Kurume, Japan.
Department of Orthopedics, Kurume University School of Medicine, Kurume, Japan.
Department of Nursing, Kurume University Hospital, Kurume, Japan.
Department of Clinical Nutrition, Kurume University Hospital, Kurume, Japan.
Ultrasonic Diagnosis Center, Kurume University Hospital, Kurume, Japan.



Sarcopenia and physical disability assessed by a 6-min walking test (6MWT) are associated with poor prognosis of patients with chronic liver disease (CLD). However, CLD patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) mostly rest in bed during hospitalization. We aimed to investigate the effects of therapeutic exercise on liver function, 6MWT, and skeletal muscle mass during HCC treatment in patients with CLD.


We enrolled 54 CLD patients with HCC (median age, 76 years). During hospitalization, patients performed a combination of stretching, strength training, balance practice, and endurance training (2.5-4 metabolic equivalents/20 min/day). Primary outcomes were changes from admission to discharge in Child-Pugh class, 6MWT, and skeletal muscle mass. Furthermore, factors associated with skeletal muscle atrophy were analyzed by a decision-tree analysis.


Exercise did not worsen the Child-Pugh class. On discharge, the 6MWT ambulation distance was maintained, and heart rate variability during the 6MWT was significantly improved compared to that on admission (area under the curve 50.3 vs. 39.0 arbitrary units; P = 0.0027). Although skeletal muscle mass was significantly reduced (20.6 kg vs. 20.0 kg, P = 0.0301), branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) treatment was identified as the most distinguishable factor for minimizing muscle mass atrophy (-1.1 kg vs. -0.5 kg/hospitalization).


Therapeutic exercise improved physical ability without worsening liver function during hospitalization for HCC treatment in CLD patients. Although exercise did not completely prevent skeletal muscle atrophy, BCAA treatment minimized the skeletal muscle atrophy. Thus, exercise with BCAA treatment may be important for the management of CLD patients with HCC.


hepatocellular carcinoma; kinesiotherapy; nutrition; physical function; sarcopenia


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