The rapid rise in obesity, particularly among children is a major public health concern that adversely affects vital organs including the liver. We sought to investigate the effect of exercise on the healing of liver cells from damage induced by high fat diet (HFD) in a rat model of hepatic steatosis. Rats were randomly divided into four groups (n=6 in each group); control group fed on a low fat diet (LFD), LFD plus exercise group (LFD+EX), model group fed on HFD, and swim exercise treated group (HFD+EX). Training swim exercise started from the 11th week up until the end of week 15. Liver index and body mass index (BMI) were determined, and harvested liver tissues were examined using basic histological staining and visualised under light microscopy. In addition, collected blood samples were assayed for biomarkers of liver injury. Histological images from the model group showed accumulation of lipid droplets in the hepatocytes (steatosis) and damaged liver cells that were inhibited by swimming exercise. Compared to control groups, HFD caused an increase in BMI and liver weight but not in liver index. In addition, HFD significantly (p<0.05) increased liver injury biomarkers; high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) that were effectively (p<0.05) decreased by swimming exercise. Furthermore, a negative correlation between these biomarkers and the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protein adiponectin was observed. Thus, HFD-induced hepatic steatosis is treated by swim exercise.
KEY WORDS: Hepatic steatosis; Swim exercise; Liver injury; Animal model.