Exercising the hepatobiliary-gut axis. The impact of physical activity performance

Emilio Molina-Molina, Raquel Lunardi Baccetto, David Q.H. Wang, Ornella de Bari, Marcin Krawczyk, Piero Portincasa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: Physical inactivity puts the populations at risk of several health problems, while regular physical activity brings beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease, mortality and other health outcomes, including obesity, glycaemic control and insulin resistance. The hepatobiliary tract is greatly involved in several metabolic aspects which include digestion and absorption of nutrients in concert with intestinal motility, bile acid secretion and flow across the enterohepatic circulation and intestinal microbiota. Several metabolic abnormalities, including nonalcoholic fatty liver as well as cholesterol cholelithiasis, represent two conditions explained by changes of the aforementioned pathways. Materials and Methods: This review defines different training modalities and discusses the effects of physical activity in two metabolic disorders, that is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and cholelithiasis. Emphasis is given to pathogenic mechanisms involving intestinal bile acids, microbiota and inflammatory status. Results: A full definition of physical activity includes the knowledge of aerobic and endurance exercise, metabolic equivalent tasks, duration, frequency and intensity, beneficial and harmful effects. Physical activity influences the hepatobiliary-gut axis at different levels and brings benefits to fat distribution, liver fat and gallbladder disease while interacting with bile acids as signalling molecules, intestinal microbiota and inflammatory changes in the body. Conclusions: Several beneficial effects of physical activity are anticipated on metabolic disorders linking liver steatosis, gallstone disease, gut motility, enterohepatic circulation of signalling bile acids in relation to intestinal microbiota and inflammatory changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12958
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • G protein–coupled bile acid receptor-1
  • bile acids
  • farnesoid X receptor
  • gallstone disease
  • gut microbiota
  • nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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