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Aerobic form can protect the liver against chr

image: This is Jamal Ibdah, MD, Ph.D., professor of medicine, Raymond E. and Vaona H. Peck Chair in Cancer Research at the MU School of Medicine and lead author of the study.
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Credit: Justin Kelley, University of Missouri Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for more than 80,000 deaths in the United States each year. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to several chronic diseases, such as fatty liver disease and cirrhosis. Now, a study by researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine shows that aerobic exercise can protect the liver from inflammation and alcohol-related injury.

“Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the most common causes of chronic liver failure,” said Jamal Ibdah, MD, Ph.D., professor of medicine, Raymond E. and Vaona H. Peck Chair in Cancer Research at the MU School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “We know from previous research that chronic and excessive alcohol consumption causes changes in protein structures in the liver, leading to irreversible damage. In our current study, we wanted to see if increased levels of aerobic capacity could prevent alcohol-related liver damage. “

Ibdah’s research team used rats bred for high activity, or “runner rats,” to test whether the increased metabolism protected the liver from fatty deposits and inflammation. One group of rats was exposed to chronic alcohol consumption for six weeks and compared to a second group that was not exposed to alcohol for the same period.

“As expected, we found that fatty deposits were greatest in the livers of the chronic alcoholic group,” said Ibdah, who is also director of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at MU medical school. “However, chronic alcohol ingestion did not cause significant inflammation in the liver. Higher levels of physical activity appeared to protect against metabolic dysfunction which ultimately leads to irreversible damage to the liver.”

Ibdah’s team also found that chronic alcohol ingestion did not cause any noticeable increase in free fatty acids, triglycerides, insulin, or glucose in the blood of the alcohol-exposed group compared to a group of witnesses.

“This is important because chronic alcohol ingestion can reduce the effectiveness of insulin over time, resulting in high levels of insulin and blood sugar,” Ibdah said. “With chronic use, we would expect to see these levels much higher than the control group, but surprisingly they were about the same.”

Ibdah said more research is needed to better understand how improved aerobic fitness provides oxidative protection against chronic alcohol use. However, understanding this mechanism may lead to possible treatments for chronic alcohol-related liver damage.


The study, “High intrinsic aerobic capacity protects against ethanol-induced liver damage and metabolic dysfunction: study using a high capacity runner rat model”, was recently published in Biomolecules, a peer-reviewed journal on biogenic substances published by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. Funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health (R01DK099034), the NIH Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (R24OD010950), and the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VHA-CDA2 BX001299). The content of the article is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

In addition to Ibdah, the research team consisted of members of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and the Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology of the MU Faculty of Medicine, as well as the Departments of Anesthesiology and Physiology. molecular and integrative from the University of Michigan. , Ann Arbor.

About MU School of Medicine

The MU School of Medicine has improved health, education, and research in Missouri and beyond for over 165 years. MU doctors treat patients from all counties in the state, and more Missouri doctors have received medical degrees from MU than from any other university. For more information, visit

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