Effects of short-term sprint interval and moderate-intensity continuous training on liver fat content, lipoprotein profile, and substrate uptake: a randomized trial

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2019 Jun 1;126(6):1756-1768. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00900.2018. Epub 2019 Apr 18.


Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and increased liver fat content (LFC) alter lipoprotein profile and composition and impair liver substrate uptake. Exercise training mitigates T2D and reduces LFC, but the benefits of different training intensities in terms of lipoprotein classes and liver substrate uptake are unclear. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) or sprint interval training (SIT) on LFC, liver substrate uptake, and lipoprotein profile in subjects with normoglycemia or prediabetes/T2D. We randomized 54 subjects (normoglycemic group, n = 28; group with prediabetes/T2D, n = 26; age = 40-55 yr) to perform either MICT or SIT for 2 wk and measured LFC with magnetic resonance spectroscopy, lipoprotein composition with NMR, and liver glucose uptake (GU) and fatty acid uptake (FAU) using PET. At baseline, the group with prediabetes/T2D had higher LFC, impaired lipoprotein profile, and lower whole body insulin sensitivity and aerobic capacity compared with the normoglycemic group. Both training modes improved aerobic capacity (P < 0.001) and lipoprotein profile (reduced LDL and increased large HDL subclasses; all P < 0.05) with no training regimen (SIT vs. MICT) or group effect (normoglycemia vs. prediabetes/T2D). LFC tended to be reduced in the group with prediabetes/T2D compared with the normoglycemic group posttraining (P = 0.051). When subjects were divided according to LFC (high LFC, >5.6%; low LFC, <5.6%), training reduced LFC in subjects with high LFC (P = 0.009), and only MICT increased insulin-stimulated liver GU (P = 0.03). Short-term SIT and MICT are effective in reducing LFC in subjects with fatty liver and in improving lipoprotein profile regardless of baseline glucose tolerance. Short-term MICT is more efficient in improving liver insulin sensitivity compared with SIT. NEW & NOTEWORTHY In the short term, both sprint interval training and moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) reduce liver fat content and improve lipoprotein profile; however, MICT seems to be preferable in improving liver insulin sensitivity.

Keywords: lipoprotein profile and exercise; liver fat content; liver glucose uptake; sprint interval training.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / blood
  • Fatty Liver / therapy*
  • Female
  • High-Intensity Interval Training*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipoproteins / blood*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Lipoproteins