Image Of Liver In Human Body – Weighing in at around 3 pounds, the liver is the second largest organ in the body; only the skin is larger and heavier. The liver performs many important functions related to digestion, metabolism, immunity, and nutrient storage in the body. These functions make the liver an important organ without which the body’s tissues will quickly die due to lack of energy and nutrients. Fortunately, the liver has an extraordinary capacity to regenerate dead or damaged tissue; it is capable of growing as fast as a cancerous tumor to restore its normal size and function. Keep scrolling to read more below…
The liver is a roughly triangular organ that spans the entire abdominal cavity just below the diaphragm. Most of the liver mass is located on the right side of the body where it descends inferiorly to the right kidney. The liver is made of very soft, pinkish-brown tissue that is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. This capsule is protected and reinforced by the peritoneum of the abdominal cavity, which protects the liver and keeps it within the abdomen.
Image Of Liver In Human Body
The peritoneum connects the heart in 4 places: the coronary ligament, the right and left triangular ligaments, and the falciform ligament. This connection is not a true ligament in the anatomical sense; rather, it is a thickened area of the peritoneal membrane that supports the liver.
Definition Of Liver
The tube that carries bile through the liver and gallbladder is known as the bile duct and forms a branching structure known as the biliary tree. Bile produced by liver cells flows into microscopic channels known as bile canaliculi. Countless bile ducts join to form many larger bile ducts found throughout the liver.
These bile ducts then join to form the larger left and right hepatic ducts, which carry bile from the left and right lobes of the liver. The two hepatic ducts join to form the common hepatic duct that drains all the bile from the liver. The common hepatic duct eventually joins with the cystic duct of the gallbladder to form the common bile duct, which carries bile to the duodenum from the small intestine. Most of the bile produced by the liver is pushed up the cystic duct by peristalsis to reach the gallbladder for storage until needed for digestion.
The blood supply to the liver is unique among all the organs of the body due to the hepatic portal venous system. Blood flowing to the spleen, stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, and intestines passes through the capillaries of these organs and is collected in the hepatic portal vein. The hepatic portal vein then sends this blood to the liver tissue where the blood contents are divided into smaller vessels and processed before being distributed throughout the body. The blood that leaves the liver tissue collects in the hepatic veins that lead to the vena cava and return to the heart. The liver also has its own system of arteries and arterioles that supply oxygenated blood to its tissues like any other organ.
The internal structure of the liver is made up of about 100,000 small hexagonal functional units known as lobules. Each lobule consists of a central vein surrounded by 6 hepatic portal veins and 6 hepatic arteries. These blood vessels are connected by many capillary-like tubes called sinusoids, which extend from the portal vein and artery to meet the central vein like the spokes of a wheel.
Bile: Makeup, Function, Where It’s Found, How It Works
. Bile is a mixture of water, bile salts, cholesterol, and the pigment bilirubin. Hepatocytes in the liver produce bile, which then travels through the bile ducts to be stored in the gallbladder. When food containing fat reaches the duodenum, cells in the duodenum release the hormone cholecystokinin to stimulate the gallbladder to release bile. The bile travels through the bile ducts and is released into the duodenum where it emulsifies a large mass of fat. Fat emulsifiers via bile convert large clumps of fat into smaller chunks that have more surface area and are therefore easier for the body to digest.
The bilirubin found in bile is the result of the digestion of red blood cells that have been used up by the liver. Kupffer cells in the liver capture and destroy old and worn-out red blood cells and pass their components to hepatocytes. Hepatocytes metabolize hemoglobin, the red pigment in red blood cells that carries oxygen, into components
. The globin proteins are broken down again and used as a source of energy for the body. The body cannot recycle the iron-containing heme group and it becomes the pigment bilirubin and is added to the bile to be excreted from the body. Bilirubin gives bile its characteristic greenish color. Intestinal bacteria also convert bilirubin into the brown pigment stercobilin, which gives stool its brown color.
Liver hepatocytes are tasked with many important metabolic jobs that support the cells of the body. Because all blood leaving the digestive system passes through the hepatic portal vein, the liver is responsible for metabolizing carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins into useful biological substances.
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Our digestive system breaks down carbohydrates into the monosaccharide glucose, which is used by cells as a primary source of energy. The blood that enters the liver through the hepatic portal vein is rich in glucose from digested food. Hepatocytes absorb much of this glucose and store it as macromolecular glycogen, a branched polysaccharide that allows hepatocytes to store large amounts of glucose and release it rapidly between meals. The uptake and release of glucose by liver cells helps maintain homeostasis and protects the entire body from dangerous spikes and dips in blood glucose levels. (See more on glucose in the body.)
Fatty acids in the blood that pass through the liver are taken up by hepatocytes and metabolized to produce energy in the form of ATP. Glycerol, another lipid component, is converted to glucose by hepatocytes through the process of gluconeogenesis. Hepatocytes can also produce lipids such as cholesterol, phospholipids, and lipoproteins that are used by other cells throughout the body. Most of the cholesterol produced by the hepatocytes will be eliminated from the body as a component of bile.
Dietary protein is broken down into its amino acid components by the digestive system before being delivered to the hepatic portal vein. Amino acids entering the liver require metabolic processing before they can be used as an energy source. Hepatocytes first remove amino groups from amino acids and convert them to ammonia and finally urea. Urea is less toxic than ammonia and can be excreted in the urine as a digestive waste. The remaining part of the amino acid can be broken down into ATP or converted into new glucose molecules through the process of gluconeogenesis.
When blood from the digestive organs passes through the hepatic portal circulation, hepatocytes in the liver control the blood content and remove many potentially toxic substances before they can reach the rest of the body. Enzymes in the hepatocytes metabolize many of these toxins, such as alcohol and drugs, into their inactive metabolites. And to keep hormone levels within homeostatic limits, the liver also metabolizes and removes hormones produced by the body’s own glands from the circulation.
D Rendered Illustration Of The Female Anatomy
The liver provides storage for many important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals obtained from the blood that passes through the hepatic portal system. Glucose is transported to the hepatocytes under the influence of the hormone insulin and is stored as the polysaccharide glycogen. Hepatocytes also absorb and store fatty acids from digested triglycerides. Storing these nutrients allows the liver to maintain blood glucose homeostasis. Our liver also stores vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12, as well as the minerals iron and copper, to provide a continuous supply of these essential substances to the body’s tissues.
Unfortunately, a common inherited disorder called hemochromatosis causes the liver to store too much iron, which can lead to liver disease. Modern DNA health tests can help you determine if you are genetically at increased risk for these conditions or others, such as Gaucher disease and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, all of which increase the risk of liver disease.
The liver is responsible for the production of several important protein components of blood plasma: prothrombin, fibrinogen, and albumin. Prothrombin and fibrinogen proteins are coagulation factors involved in the formation of blood clots. Albumin is a protein that maintains the isotonic environment of the blood so that the cells of the body do not gain or lose water in the presence of body fluids.
The liver functions as an organ of the immune system through the function of the Kupffer cells that line the sinusoids. Kupffer cells are a type of resident macrophage that is part of the mononuclear phagocyte system along with macrophages from the spleen and lymph nodes. Kupffer cells play an important role by capturing and digesting bacteria, fungi, parasites, old blood cells, and cellular debris. The large volume of blood that passes through the hepatic portal system and the liver allows the Kupffer cells to clean much
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