Lifestyle modifications remain the cornerstone of treatment in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, they requently fail related to the inability of patients to implement lasting changes.

To evaluate the effects of a short, web-based, individualised exercise program on non-invasive markers of hepatic steatosis, inflammation and fibrosis.

Patients with histologically confirmed NAFLD underwent an 8-week, web-based, individualised exercise program that contained bidirectional feedback.

Forty-four patients entered the study and 41 completed the assigned training goal (93.2%). In the completer population, 8 weeks of individualised exercise increased the VO2peak by 12.2% compared to baseline (P < .001). ALT and AST decreased by 14.3% (P = .002) and 18.2% (P < .001) and remained at this level until follow-up 12 weeks after the intervention. Markers of inflammation including hsCRP, ferritin, and M30 decreased. In parallel, gut microbiota exhibited increased metagenomic richness (P < .05) and at the taxonomic levels Bacteroidetes and Euryarchaeota increased whereas Actinobacteria phylum decreased. Surrogate scores of steatosis and fibrosis including the fatty liver index (FLI), FiB-4, APRI and transient elastography showed significant reductions. In parallel, a marker of procollagen-3 turnover (PRO-C3) decreased while C4M2, reflecting type IV collagen, degradation increased suggesting beneficial hepatic fibrosis remodelling from exercise. Also, an enhancement in health-related quality of life was reported.

The current study underlines the plausibility and potential of an 8 week individualised web-based exercise program in NAFLD. Clinical trial number: NCT02526732.