BACKGROUND: Polycystic liver disease (PLD) is a hereditary liver disease with progressive enlargement of fluid-filled liver cysts, which causes abdominal discomfort and worsens quality of life. Long-term exercise has beneficial effects in various organs, but the effects of long-term exercise on PLD are unclear. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate whether long-term exercise inhibits liver cyst formation and fibrosis. METHODS: Polycystic kidney (PCK) rats, a model of PLD, were randomly divided into a sedentary group and a long-term exercise group, which underwent treadmill running for 12 wk (28 m·min, 60 min·d, 5 d·wk). Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were set as a control group. After 12 wk, exercise capacity, histology, and signaling cascades of PLD were examined. RESULTS: Compared with control SD rats, PCK rats showed a low exercise capacity before exercise protocol. After 12 wk, the exercise improved the exercise capacity and ameliorated liver cyst formation and fibrosis. The exercise significantly decreased the number of Ki-67-positive cells; the expression of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator, aquaporin 1, transforming growth factor β, and type 1 collagen; and the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase, mammalian target of rapamycin and S6. It also increased the phosphorylation of AMP-activated protein kinase in the liver of PCK rats. CONCLUSIONS: The present results indicated that long-term moderate-intensity exercise ameliorates liver cyst formation and fibrosis with the inhibition of signaling cascades responsible for cellular proliferation and fibrosis in PCK rats.
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