The liver is located in the upper right portion of the abdomen. It is the largest gland in the human body that performs several important functions. It is the only organ that has the ability to regenerate efficiently.
Structure of Liver
The liver is a triangular, bilobed structure consisting of a larger right lobe and a smaller left lobe. The falciform ligament separates the two lobes.
A layer of fibrous tissue called Glisson’s capsule covers the liver. This capsule is covered by peritoneum. This protects the liver from physical damage.
It has two main sources of blood:
- Hepatic Portal Vein that carries nutrient-rich blood from the digestive system.
- Hepatic Artery that carries oxygenated blood from the heart.
Also Read: Facts About Liver
Functions of Liver
The important functions of the liver are mentioned below:
Production of Bile
Bile, which helps in the digestion and absorption of fats, vitamins and cholesterol is produced in the liver.
Absorption of Bilirubin
Bilirubin is formed by the breakdown of haemoglobin. The iron released is stored in the liver to make next-generation blood cells.
Supporting Blood Clots
Bile is responsible for the absorption of vitamin K. If bile is not produced, clotting factors will not be produced.
Metabolization of Fats
Bile helps in the breakdown and digestion of fats.
The carbohydrates stored in the liver as glycogen are broken down into glucose and released into the blood to maintain glucose levels.
Storage of Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12 are stored in the liver. It also stores iron in the form of ferritin to form new red blood cells.
Metabolization of Proteins
Bile helps in the digestion of proteins.
The compounds such as hormones, alcohol, etc are filtered by the liver from the blood.
Liver contains Kuffer cells involved in immune activity. These destroy any disease-causing agents.
Albumin transports fatty acids and steroids to maintain correct pressure and prevent leakage of blood vessels.
This hormone is responsible for narrowing of blood vessels which results in an increase in blood pressure.
Regeneration of Liver
The liver has the ability to regrow in all the vertebrates. The functions of the liver are not lost during the growth process. In humans, regeneration takes 8-15 days.
In mice, the same process takes around 5-7 days.
This is caused by a parasite “liver fluke”. The parasite can lie dormant in the liver for months or even years.
This can be caused due to alcohol consumption, toxins and hepatitis. Here, the scar cells replace liver cells in a process known as fibrosis. The functionality of liver cells is destroyed, which might lead to liver failure.
It is the inflammation of the liver caused by viruses such as hepatitis A, B and C. In most cases, it leads to liver failure.
Alcoholic Liver Disease
Uncontrolled alcohol consumption leads to liver damage. It is the most common cause of cirrhosis.
Fatty Liver Disease
This is the result of alcohol abuse or obesity. In this disease, the vacuoles of fat build-up in the liver cells.
Alcohol and hepatitis are the major cause of liver cancer. Hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma are the two types of liver cancer.
Also Read: Hepatic Portal System
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