Effects of exercise training on intrahepatic lipid content in humans

Bram Brouwers, Matthijs K. C. Hesselink, Patrick Schrauwen, Vera B. Schrauwen-Hinderling*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) is the most common liver disorder in western society. Various factors may play a role in determining hepatic fat content, such as delivery of lipids to the liver, de novo lipogenesis, hepatic lipid oxidation, secretion of intrahepatic lipids to the circulation or a combination of these. If delivery of lipids to the liver outweighs the sum of hepatic lipid oxidation and secretion, the intrahepatic lipid (IHL) content starts to increase and NAFL may develop. NAFL is closely related to obesity and insulin resistance and a fatty liver increases the vulnerability to type 2 diabetes development. Exercise training is a cornerstone in the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes. There is a large body of literature describing the beneficial metabolic consequences of exercise training on skeletal muscle metabolism. Recent studies have started to investigate the effects of exercise training on liver metabolism but data is still limited. Here, first, we briefly discuss the routes by which IHL content is modulated. Second, we review whether and how these contributing routes might be modulated by long-term exercise training. Third, we focus on the effects of acute exercise on IHL metabolism, since exercise also might affect hepatic metabolism in the physically active state. This will give insight into whether the effect of exercise training on IHL could be explained by the accumulated effect of acute bouts of exercise, or whether adaptations might occur only after long-term exercise training. The primary focus of this review will be on observations made in humans. Where human data is missing, data obtained from well-accepted animal models will be used.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2068-2079
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Exercise
  • Human
  • Insulin sensitivity and resistance
  • Lipid metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Prediction and prevention of type 2 diabetes
  • Review

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