The liver is a remarkable multi-tasker
Image Caption : The liver is a remarkable multi-tasker. It detoxifies blood; regulates glucose, protein and fat metabolism; stores A, D and B vitamins; and produces key enzymes and hormones.
The liver is the body's central chemical plant, filtering blood and removing toxins, storing sugars and lipids and producing proteins such as albumin and those that are involved in blood clotting. The liver also produces most of body's supply of cholesterol (the rest comes from food).
The liver is located primarily in the right hypochondriac and epigastric regions of the abdomen, just beneath the diaphragm. It is the largest gland in the body. On the surface, the liver is divided into two major lobes and two smaller lobes. The functional units of the liver are lobules with sinusoids that carry blood from the periphery to the central vein of the lobule.
The liver receives blood from two sources. Freshly oxygenated blood is brought to the liver by the common hepatic artery, a branch of the celiac trunk from the abdominal aorta. Blood that is rich in nutrients from the digestive tract is carried to the liver by the hepatic portal vein.
The liver has a wide variety of functions and many of these are vital to life. Hepatocytes perform most of the functions attributed to the liver, but the phagocytic Kupffer cells that line the sinusoids are responsible for cleansing the blood.
Liver functions include the following:
- synthesis of bile salts
- synthesis of plasma protein
- carbohyrate metabolism
- lipid metabolism
- protein metabolism
National Cancer Institute / National Institutes of Health
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