Lack of Exercise Linked to Fatty Liver Disease

by Rajashri on Oct 31 2008 4:34 PM

A group of researchers has revealed that a sudden transition to a sedentary lifestyle can quickly lead to symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis).

Hepatic steatosis is a reversible condition that causes fat to accumulate in liver cells of obese people.

The new study by researchers at University of Missouri indicated that a regular exercise can prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which affects at least 75 percent of obese people.

"We found that the cessation of daily exercise dramatically activates specific precursors known to promote hepatic steatosis," said Jamal Ibdah, professor of medicine and medical pharmacology and physiology in the MU School of Medicine.

He added: "This study has important implications for obese humans who continually stop and start exercise programs. Our findings strongly suggest that a sudden transition to a sedentary lifestyle increases susceptibility to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease."

For conducting their study, the researchers gave obese rats access to voluntary running wheels for 16 weeks. Then, they locked the wheels, and transitioned the animals to a sedentary condition.

After 173 hours, or about seven days, scientists observed that the rats began showing signs of factors responsible for promoting hepatic steatosis.

In case of the animals tested immediately at the end of 16 weeks of voluntary running, researchers noted no signs of hepatic steatosis.

"Physical activity prevented fatty liver disease by 100 percent in an animal model of fatty liver disease. In contrast, 100 percent of the group that did not have physical activity had fatty liver disease. This is a remarkable event. It is rare in medicine for any treatment to prevent any disease by 100 percent," said Frank Booth, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and the MU School of Medicine.

The study, titled "Cessation of Daily Exercise Dramatically Alters Precursors of Hepatic Steatosis in Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF) Rats," was published in The Journal of Physiology.