what is liver? what does liver do inside body?


Can you believe the liver carries out over 500 essential tasks? Liver is Shaped like a cone, the liver holds up to 13 percent of a person’s blood and is a dark reddish-brown organ that weighs about 3 pounds. This organ is vital to the body’s metabolic, detoxification, and immune system functions. its main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract. The liver is located in the upper right-hand portion of the abdominal cavity, beneath the diaphragm, and on top of the stomach, right kidney, and intestines. The liver is the only visceral organ that can regenerate. Without a functioning liver, a person cannot survive. The liver is the largest solid organ and the largest gland in the human body.

Anything that is eaten or consumed, whether it’s food, alcohol, medicine or toxins, gets filtered by the liver. Once we ingest food, it is digested by the stomach and intestine, gets absorbed into the blood and goes to the liver.

Because of the importance of the liver and its functions, evolution has ensured that it can regrow rapidly as long as it is kept healthy. This ability is seen in all vertebrates from fish to humans. it can regenerate completely, as long as a minimum of 25 percent of the tissue remains. One of the most impressive aspects of this feat is that the liver can regrow to its previous size and ability without any loss of function during the growth process. you can’t feel the liver, because it’s protected by the rib cage.

What are Liver lobes and hepatocytes?

a liver is made up of two main lobes, or sections. Each lobe is made up of thousands of hexagonally-shaped lobules. Each lobule is itself made up of numerous liver cells, called hepatocytes.

hepatocytes (hepar=liver + cyte=cell) absorb nutrients and detoxify and remove harmful substances from the blood. About 60% of the liver is made up of hepatocytes. A hepatocyte has an average lifespan of 150 days. There are approximately 202,000 in every milligram of your liver tissue. The liver receives its blood supply via the hepatic artery and portal vein. Hepatocytes are responsible for making many of the proteins (protein synthesis) in the body that are required for many functions, including blood clotting factors, and albumin, required to maintain fluid within the circulation system.

Inside each lobule, the liver cells line up in rows. Between each row are sinusoids. These small blood vessels diffuse oxygen and nutrients through their capillary walls into the liver cells. 

What is the role of liver in food digestion?

a big function of liver is after digestion, it removes sugar from the blood and stores it in the form of glycogen. When a person’s blood sugar decreases, it converts that stored glycogen to glucose, adding the proper amount of instant energy into the bloodstream for the cells to use. Once the glycogen store is used, the liver will create glucose from other carbohydrates and a form of protein.

The liver is also a fat factory of sorts. It breaks down fats that are eaten, converting excess carbohydrates and protein into forms that are stored for later use, while synthesizing other fat, like cholesterol. The liver produces bile to help break down and absorb fats. Waste products and toxins are removed through bile. Bile, incidentally, gives stool its color.

The liver produces and breaks down proteins as well. The byproduct of breaking down amino acid proteins is called ammonia, which can be toxic to the body in large amounts. The liver turns the toxic ammonia into a substance called urea. The liver releases this into the blood where the kidneys excrete it via the urine. The liver also removes alcohol from the blood, as well as affects many medications a person takes.

The liver also produces an estimated 800 to 1,000 milliliters (ml) of bile each day. This bile is transported via bile ducts that eventually join and form the common bile duct that flows into the small intestine. The small intestine uses the bile to further help with break down and absorption of fats. Extra bile is stored in the gallbladder. Bile consists of bile salts, cholesterol, bilirubin, electrolytes, and water. Bilirubin is formed by the breakdown of hemoglobin.

Aside from macronutrients, The liver stores vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12. It keeps significant amounts of these vitamins stored. In some cases, several years’ worth of vitamins is held as a backup. The liver stores iron from hemoglobin in the form of ferritin, ready to make new red blood cells. The iron released from hemoglobin is stored in the liver or bone marrow and used to make the next generation of blood cells. The liver also stores and releases copper.

Vitamin K is necessary for the creation of certain coagulants that help clot the blood. Bile is essential for vitamin K absorption and is created in the liver. If the liver does not produce enough bile, clotting factors cannot be produced.

liver and detoxification

Alcohol can be toxic to the liver (hepatotoxic), especially in high doses, and long-term alcohol abuse is a common cause of liver disease. The liver filters and removes compounds from the body, including hormones, such as estrogen and aldosterone, and compounds from outside the body, including alcohol and other drugs, but it cannot handle too much stress. also as mentioned, liver also plays an important role in detoxifying the body by converting ammonia, a byproduct of protein metabolism in the body, into urea that is excreted in the urine by the kidneys.

Liver is connected to normal functioning of blood, hormones and immune system.

Blood leaves your liver via a central vein in each lobule, then through a hepatic vein, one of several short veins originating within the lobes of the liver as small branches. These unite in a network of hepatic veins that lead directly to the inferior vena cava.

This major vein collects blood from parts of the body below your diaphragm, and passes that blood on for your heart to use. the liver has two major sources of blood. The portal vein brings in nutrient-rich blood from the digestive system, and the hepatic artery carries oxygenated blood from the heart.

It also has a layer of fibrous tissue called Glisson’s capsule which covers the outside of the liver. This capsule is further covered by the peritoneum, a membrane that forms the lining of the abdominal cavity.

liver helps body resisting infections by producing immune factors and removing bacteria from the blood stream. It helps clear the body of particles and infections.

It also plays a major role in manufacturing, breaking down and regulating numerous hormones including sex hormones, making enzymes and proteins which are responsible for most chemical reactions in the body, for example those involved in blood clotting and repair of damaged tissues, filtering the blood, and so much more.

The liver is part of the mononuclear phagocyte system. It contains high numbers of Kupffer cells that are involved in immune activity. These cells destroy any disease-causing agents that might enter the liver through the gut.

As mentioned previously, Hepatocytes create albumin. Albumin is the most common protein in blood serum. It transports fatty acids and steroid hormones to help maintain the correct pressure and prevent the leaking of blood vessels.

liver also helps with Synthesis of angiotensinogen. angiotensinogen is a hormone that raises blood pressure by narrowing the blood vessels when alerted by production of an enzyme called renin in the kidneys.

Because the liver is involved in the metabolism of sex hormones, gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissue in men) and sexual impotence may occur if it does not function properly.

What are the most common liver diseases?

Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver, usually caused by viruses like hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis can have non-infectious causes too, including heavy drinking, drugs, allergic reactions, or obesity. The inflammation of hepatitis may be associated with pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, nausea and vomiting. This may also be seen in people with gallstones.

Cirrhosis: Long-term damage to the liver from any cause can lead to permanent scarring, called cirrhosis. The liver then becomes unable to function well. Alcohol abuse causes cirrhosis of the liver and is the most common cause of liver disease in North America.

Jaundice: People may have jaundice (have a yellow-orange hue to their skin) because the liver cannot metabolize bilirubin (the normal breakdown product of old red blood cells).

Liver cancer: The most common type of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, almost always occurs after cirrhosis is present.

fatty liver disease: Fatty liver disease, caused by accumulation of cholesterol and triglycerides within the liver is not associated with alcohol abuse. Fatty liver disease is also referred to as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

Liver failure: Liver failure has many causes including infection, genetic diseases, and excessive alcohol.

Ascites: As cirrhosis results, the liver leaks fluid (ascites) into the belly, which becomes distended and heavy.

Biliary atresia: Biliary atresia is a condition that adversely affects a person’s bile ducts and bile flow from when they’re an infant. If left untreated, the condition can cause liver scarring and affect liver tissue.

Gallstones: If a gallstone becomes stuck in the bile duct draining the liver, hepatitis and bile duct infection (cholangitis) can result.

Hemochromatosis: Hemochromatosis allows iron to deposit in the liver, damaging it. The iron also deposits throughout the body, causing multiple other health problems.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis: A rare disease with unknown causes, primary sclerosing cholangitis causes inflammation and scarring in the bile ducts in the liver.

Primary biliary cirrhosis: In this rare disorder, an unclear process slowly destroys the bile ducts in the liver. Permanent liver scarring (cirrhosis) eventually develops.

Fascioliasis: This is caused by the parasitic invasion of a parasitic worm known as a liver fluke, which can lie dormant in the liver for months or even years. Fascioliasis is considered a tropical disease.

tips on how to keep liver healthy

Diet: As the liver is responsible for digesting fats, consuming too many can overwork the organ and disturb it from other tasks. Obesity is also linked to fatty liver disease.

Safe sex: There is no vaccination for hepatitis C, so caution is advised in regards to safe sex, tattoos, and piercings.

Moderate alcohol intake: Avoid consuming more than two drinks at a time. Drinking too much alcohol causes cirrhosis of the liver over time. When the liver breaks down alcohol, it produces toxic chemicals, such as acetaldehyde and free radicals. For serious damage to occur, it takes the equivalent of a liter of wine every day for 20 years in men. For women, the threshold is less than half of that.

Avoiding illicit substances: When last surveyed in 2012, close to 24 million people in the United States had consumed an illicit, non-medical drug within the last month. These can overload the liver with toxins.

Caution when mixing medications: Some prescription drugs and natural remedies can interact negatively when mixed. Mixing drugs with alcohol puts significant pressure on the liver. For example, combining alcohol and acetaminophen can lead to acute liver failure. Be sure to follow the instructions on any medications.

Protection against airborne chemicals: When painting or using strong cleaning or gardening chemicals, the area should be well ventilated, or a mask should be worn. Airborne chemicals can cause liver damage because the liver has to process any toxins that enter the body.

Travel and vaccinations: Vaccination is essential if you are traveling to an area in which hepatitis A or B might be a concern. Malaria grows and multiplies in the liver, and yellow fever can lead to liver failure. Both diseases can be prevented by oral medication and vaccination.

Avoid exposure to blood and germs: Receive medical attention if you are exposed to the blood of another person. It is also important not to share personal items related to hygiene, such as toothbrushes, and to avoid dirty needles.