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Exercise-induced improvements in liver fat and endothelial function are not sustained 12 months following cessation of exercise supervision in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Mike TrenellORCiD


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Supervised exercise reduces liver fat and improves endothelial function, a surrogate of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We hypothesised that after a 16-week supervised exercise program, patients would maintain longer-term improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, liver fat and endothelial function. Ten NAFLD patients (5/5 males/females, age 51 +/- 13 years, body mass index 31 +/- 3 kg m(-2) (mean +/- s.d.)) underwent a 16-week supervised moderate-intensity exercise intervention. Biochemical markers, cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2peak), subcutaneous, visceral and liver fat (measured by magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy respectively) and brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) were assessed at baseline, after 16 weeks of supervised training and 12 months after ending supervision. Despite no significant change in body weight, there were significant improvements in VO2peak (6.5 ml kg(-1) min(-1) (95% confidence interval 2.8, 10.1); P = 0.003), FMD (2.9% (1.5, 4.2); P = 0.001), liver transaminases (P < 0.05) and liver fat (-10.1% (-20.6, 0.5); P = 0.048) immediately after the 16-week supervised training. Nevertheless, 12 months after ending supervision, VO2peak (0.9 ml kg(-1) min(-1) (-3.3, 5.1); P = 0.65), FMD (-0.07% (-2.3, 2.2); P = 0.95), liver transaminases (P > 0.05) and liver fat (1.4% (-13.0, 15.9); P = 0.83) were not significantly different from baseline. At 12 months following cessation of supervision, exercise-mediated improvements in liver fat and other cardiometabolic variables had reversed with cardiorespiratory fitness at baseline levels. Maintenance of high cardiorespiratory fitness and stability of body weight are critical public health considerations for the treatment of NAFLD.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pugh CJA, Sprung VS, Jones H, Richardson P, Shojaee-Moradie F, Umpleby AM, Green DJ, Cable NT, Trenell MI, Kemp GJ, Cuthbertson DJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Obesity

Year: 2016

Volume: 40

Issue: 12

Pages: 1927-1930

Print publication date: 01/12/2016

Online publication date: 18/10/2016

Acceptance date: 25/06/2016

ISSN (print): 0307-0565

ISSN (electronic): 1476-5497

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2016.123


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