Effect of exercise training and isoflavones on hepatic steatosis in overweight postmenopausal women

Climacteric. 2013 Feb;16(1):88-95. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2012.662251. Epub 2012 Apr 24.


Objectives: Postmenopausal women are particularly inclined to an increased risk of developing non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether adding isoflavone supplementation to exercise training could reduce the risk.

Methods: In a 6-month, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, 54 healthy overweight-to-obese (body mass index 28-40 kg/m2) postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: (1) exercise and isoflavones (Ex-Iso; n = 26), (2) exercise and placebo (Ex-Pla; n = 28). Exercise training consisted of three weekly sessions of mixed training. We examined the plasma level of specific hepatic enzymes (alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, γ-glutamyltransferase, and alkaline phosphatase) as a reflection of fatty liver along with the calculation of the fatty liver index. All measures were obtained at baseline and after the 6-month intervention.

Results: Following the intervention, a lower fatty liver index (p <0.01; 29% in Ex-Iso, 18% in Ex-Pla) and plasma γ-glutamyltransferase (p <0.01; 22% in Ex-Iso, 16% in Ex-Pla) were observed in both groups, with a higher reduction in the Ex-Iso group. On the other hand, for all other hepatic enzymes, there was no change.

Conclusions: Our results show that exercise training appears to bring favorable changes in the plasma level of hepatic enzymes, possibly due to the lowering of liver fat content. While postmenopausal women can benefit from this intervention to decrease the risk of developing non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis, it seems that the addition of isoflavones to exercise training provides some additional effects to those provided by exercise alone.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Energy Intake
  • Exercise*
  • Fatty Liver / blood
  • Fatty Liver / complications
  • Fatty Liver / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Phytoestrogens / therapeutic use*
  • Postmenopause*
  • Soybeans
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Waist Circumference
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / blood


  • Isoflavones
  • Phytoestrogens
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase