Physical exercise and liver “fitness”: Role of mitochondrial function and epigenetics-related mechanisms in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Background: Modern lifestyles, especially high-caloric intake and physical inactivity, contribute to the increased prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which becomes a significant health problem worldwide. Lifestyle changes, however, affect not only parental generation, but also their offspring, reinforcing the need for efficient preventive approaches to deal with this disease. This transgenerational influence of phenotypes dependent on parents (particularly maternal) behaviours may open additional research avenues. Despite persistent attempts to design an effective pharmacological therapy against NAFLD, physical activity, as a non-pharmacological approach, emerges as an exciting strategy.
Scope of review: Here we briefly review the effect of physical exercise on liver mitochondria adaptations in NAFLD, highlighting the importance of mitochondrial metabolism and transgenerational and epigenetic mechanisms in liver diseases.
Major conclusions: A deeper look into cellular mechanisms sheds a light on possible effects of physical activity in the prevention and treatment of NAFLD through modulation of function and structure of particular organelles, namely mitochondria. Additionally, despite of increasing evidence regarding the contribution of epigenetic mechanisms in the pathogenesis of different diseases, the role of microRNAs, DNA methylation, and histone modification in NAFLD pathogenesis still needs to be elucidated.