Moderate physical activity promotes basal hepatic autophagy in diet-induced obese mice

Megan E. Rosa-Caldwell, David E. Lee, Jacob L. Brown, Lemuel A. Brown, Richard A. Perry, Elizabeth S. Greene, Francisco R. Carvallo Chaigneau, Tyrone A. Washington, Nicholas P. Greene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Obesity is a known risk factor for the development of hepatic disease; obesity-induced fatty liver can lead to inflammation, steatosis, and cirrhosis and is associated with degeneration of the mitochondria. Lifestyle interventions such as physical activity may ameliorate this condition. The purpose of this study was to investigate regulation of mitochondrial and autophagy quality control in liver following Western diet-induced obesity and voluntary physical activity. Eight-week-old C57BL/6J mice were fed a Western diet (WD) or normal chow (NC, control) for 4 weeks; afterwards, groups were divided into voluntary wheel running (VWR) or sedentary (SED) conditions for an additional 4 weeks. WD-SED animals had a median histology score of 2, whereas WD-VWR was not different from NC groups (median score 1). There was no difference inmRNAof inflammatory markers Il6 and Tnfa inWDanimals.WDanimals had 50% lower mitochondrial content (COX IV and Cytochrome C proteins), 50% lower Pgc1a mRNA content, and reduced content of mitochondrial fusion and fission markers. Markers of autophagy were increased in VWR animals, regardless of obesity, as measured by 50% greater LC3-II/I ratio and 40% lower p62 protein content. BNIP3 protein content was 30% less inWDanimals compared with NC animals, regardless of physical activity. Diet-induced obesity results in derangements in mitochondrial quality control that appear to occur prior to the onset of hepatic inflammation. Moderate physical activity appears to enhance basal autophagy in the liver; increased autophagy may provide protection from hepatic fat accumulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-156
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Diabetes
  • Exercise
  • Insulin resistance
  • Mitochondria
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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