Regulation of fat metabolism in the liver: link to non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis and impact of physical exercise

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2006 Jun;63(12):1393-409. doi: 10.1007/s00018-006-6600-y.


Hepatic steatosis may develop as a consequence of several dysfunctions. An increased circulating non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) pool seems to be a major determinant in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Increased activation of the transcription factor sterol-regulatory-element-binding protein-1c, which promotes fatty acid synthesis, also contributes to hepatic fat accumulation. Increased hepatic fat oxidation with hepatic steatosis may be triggered by increased hepatic fat concentrations through the action of hepatic peroxisomes mediated by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha. Finally, inhibition in very low density lipoprotein secretion may also result in hepatic steatosis. This appears to be mainly controlled by the esterification of NEFAs into triacylglycerols by diacyglycerol acyltransferase-1 and -2 and the microsomal transfer protein. Physical exercise would interfere with the development of hepatic steatosis by stimulating lipid oxidation and inhibiting lipid synthesis in liver through the activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL / biosynthesis
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism*


  • Lipoproteins, VLDL