Role of Exercise in the Management of Hepatic Encephalopathy: Experience From Animal and Human Studies

J Clin Exp Hepatol. 2019 Jan-Feb;9(1):131-136. doi: 10.1016/j.jceh.2018.07.006. Epub 2018 Aug 10.


Sarcopenia and malnutrition are common features in patients with hepatic encephalopathy. Ammonia, a factor implicated in the pathophysiology of hepatic encephalopathy, may be cleared by the muscle via the enzyme glutamine synthetase when the liver function is impaired. Hence, optimizing muscle mass in patients suffering from hepatic encephalopathy is a potential strategy to decrease ammonia levels. Exercise could be an efficient therapeutic approach to optimize muscle mass and therefore potentially reduce the risk of hepatic encephalopathy in patients with chronic liver disease. This review reports the current evidence regarding exercise and hepatic encephalopathy from animal and human studies. After defining concepts such as frailty, sarcopenia, and malnutrition, the present knowledge regarding exercise as potential therapy in cirrhotic patients with or without hepatic encephalopathy is discussed. Recommendations and future aspects are also considered.

Keywords: BCCA, Branched-Chain Amino Acids; HE, Hepatic Encephalopathy; HVPG, Hepatic Portal Vein Pressure; animal models; exercise; hepatic encephalopathy; human; liver disease.

Publication types

  • Review