Exercise and the Regulation of Hepatic Metabolism

Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2015;135:203-25. doi: 10.1016/bs.pmbts.2015.07.010. Epub 2015 Aug 5.


The accelerated metabolic demands of the working muscle cannot be met without a robust response from the liver. If not for the hepatic response, sustained exercise would be impossible. The liver stores, releases, and recycles potential energy. Exercise would result in hypoglycemia if it were not for the accelerated release of energy as glucose. The energetic demands on the liver are largely met by increased oxidation of fatty acids mobilized from adipose tissue. Adaptations immediately following exercise facilitate the replenishment of glycogen stores. Pancreatic glucagon and insulin responses orchestrate the hepatic response during and immediately following exercise. Like skeletal muscle and other physiological systems, liver adapts to repeated demands of exercise by increasing its capacity to produce energy by oxidizing fat. The ability of regular physical activity to increase fat oxidation is protective and can reverse fatty liver disease. Engaging in regular physical exercise has broad ranging positive health implications including those that improve the metabolic health of the liver.

Keywords: Fatty liver; Glucagon; Gluconeogenesis; Glycogenolysis; Insulin; Ketogenesis; Pancreas exertion; Physical activity; Training; Ureagenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inactivation, Metabolic
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Metabolome
  • Motor Activity


  • Carbon