Background & Aims: Cardiorespiratory fitness and liver fibrosis are independently associated with poor outcomes in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), however, conflicting reports exist about their relationship. We aimed to better characterize the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and liver histology in a cross-sectional study of patients with biopsy-proven NASH. Methods: Participants aged 18–75 years completed VO2peak fitness assessment using symptom-limited graded exercise testing. Participants were compared by liver fibrosis stage and NAFLD Activity Score (NAS). Multivariable models were constructed to assess factors related to relative VO2peak, including liver fibrosis and NAS. Results: Thirty-five participants with mean age 48 ± 12 years and body mass index 33.5 ± 7.6 kg/m2 were enrolled. Seventy-four percent of participants were female and 49% had diabetes. A dose-dependent relationship was found between relative VO2peak and liver fibrosis. Relative VO2peak was significantly lower in participants with advanced fibrosis (F3 disease- 15.7 ± 5.3 vs. ≤ F2 disease- 20.7 ± 5.9 mL/kg/min, p = 0.027). NAS > 5 was also associated with lower relative VO2peak (22.6 ± 5.7 vs. 16.5 ± 5.1 mL/kg/min, p = 0.012) compared to NAS ≤ 5. With multivariable modeling, advanced fibrosis remained independently predictive of relative VO2peak while NAS trended towards significance. Discussion and Conclusions: Advanced liver fibrosis is independently associated with cardiorespiratory fitness in patients with NASH. This may explain the incremental increase in mortality as liver fibrosis stage increases. Further research is needed to determine if exercise training can improve cardiorespiratory fitness across multiple stages of liver fibrosis and directly reduce morbidity and mortality in patients with NASH.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes