The liver has several functions for the functioning of the human body.It is the largest organ in the human body. It weighs about a pound and a half. It is responsible for the metabolism of various substances in the body, for the production of proteins and clotting factors.
For a good liver function, a balanced diet is necessary for its vitality.The liver is an energy storage organ, if the person exceeds the amount of oil that the liver is able to metabolize and eliminate, fatty liver occurs. (Liver fat)
The liver supports food, toxins or drugs in moderate amounts. When the person exceeds some substance, the organ suffers the consequence.
The liver is the largest organ in the human body. It weighs about 1.5 kilos and is located on the right side, in the upper quadrant of the abdominal cavity, protected by the ribs.
The liver divides into two lobes (parts).
The right lobe is six times larger than the left. The organ is completely covered by the peritoneum and is irrigated by the hepatic artery, receiving venous blood from the spleen and intestines through the portal vein.
Below the right lobe is the gallbladder, a bag of approximately 9 cm, which has the capacity to collect about 50 ml of bile produced by the liver.
The liver, along with the spleen and bone marrow are the organs responsible for the hematopoiesis, formation and development of blood cells.
The functions of the liver are as follows:-
- Integration between the various energy mechanisms of the body.
- Store and metabolize vitamins.
- Synthesis of plasma proteins.
- Detoxification of chemical toxins in the body.
- Mechanical filtering of bacteria.
- Control the normal hydro-saline balance.
- Convert fats, carbohydrates and proteins into nutrients and energy.
- Produce bile to break down fats and to get rid of fat-soluble toxins as well as excess hormones.
- Elimination of harmful bacteria and chemicals.
- Metabolize drugs, as well as metabolize alcohol.
- Store essential vitamins and minerals.
- Store sugars as fuel for future uses.
- Help maintain electrolytes and fluid balance.
- Produce immune substances like gamma globulin
- Filter the blood, regulating the clotting process.
- Produce and release hormones like estrogen and testosterone.
The multiple functions of the liver
It performs over 500 functions in the human body – even when cut in half.
He participates in the digestion process, stores vitamins, cancels the effect of drugs, stores energy, produces compounds necessary for blood clotting – just to mention some of his best known works. One would imagine that an organ so important must be extremely complex, difficult to treat. And he is, in fact.
The liver still represents an intricate challenge for medicine. So much so that there is still no medicine capable of reviving the functions of a liver that has already gone bankrupt.
Once killed, liver cells (from hepar, Greek for liver) do not recover. However, if it is difficult to cure a sick liver, the incredible versatility of a healthy liver has given life expectancy to thousands of people around the world.
It is one of the organs most conducive to transplantation, causing less rejection than others already routinely transplanted, such as heart or kidneys.
Another peculiar characteristic of this organ is its ability to continue functioning even when it is cut in half: the liver is capable of regenerating itself, returning to its normal size. Thus, the same organ can be used to save the lives of two people. Or a simple piece of a healthy person’s liver can save another person’s life. Therefore, it is in the area of transplants that hepatologists have achieved the greatest achievements.
In 1995, they had already performed the first transplant in Brazil, a technique in which a healthy person donates a piece of his liver to another.
As the organ regenerates, the donor does not suffer any sequelae: “The liver works even if 80% of its volume is removed and returns to normal in two or three months”, reassures Carone.
This was what happened recently in a transplant performed by the doctor Hoel Sette Jr., from the Pró-F Liver clinic, in São Paulo: “A boy donated one of his kidneys and 70% of his liver to his sick father. After 15 days of hospitalization, both were already at home ”, he celebrates.
However, not all of these techniques are able to eliminate the distressing waiting list for transplants, which can last up to two years, while fulminant hepatitis can kill within three to four weeks.
The urgency is so great that, more and more, doctors are being forced to transplant organs that, under normal conditions, would be rejected: they are livers belonging to patients who suffered cardiac arrest, or remained for a long time in the ICU, or even contaminated by hepatitis virus. They are being used in cases where the recipient cannot wait any longer, usually in patients with cancer, advanced cirrhosis or fulminant hepatitis (see box).
For now, replacing the failed organ as soon as possible is the maximum that medicine can do to save the lives of these patients. But, according to Paulo Chap Chap, there are already lines of research that point to the production of the so-called bioartificial liver, a device similar to the dialysis machine, used by patients with renal failure.
Endowed with membranes with liver cells, it is capable of temporarily exercising the functions of the liver, while the patient awaits a transplant.
We also try to build liver cells in the laboratory and even study the use of the organ of animals, especially pigs. Of course, none of this will happen in the short term, due to the organ’s own complexity.
“The liver has multiple metabolic functions,” explains Chap Chap. “Like a large laboratory, it produces an immense amount of chemicals involved in the body’s vital activities.”
Experts list about 500 liver functions, of which the following stand out:
The liver helps to regulate blood glucose (sugar) rates by storing it in the form of glycogen. When the blood glucose level is low – hours after a meal, for example – it converts glycogen into glucose and returns it to the blood to reach parts of the body that need it. The brain is one of those organs that requires a regular supply of glucose.
Storage of vitamins and minerals
It stores fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K, water-soluble B12 (antianemic factor) and minerals such as iron and copper, which are acquired through food.
It has a regulating action on blood composition. Together with the spleen, it eliminates aged red blood cells, being able to filter about 1.2 liters of blood per minute. When the body needs blood, it draws on the liver’s reserves, as the amount of blood that flows to this organ is a quarter of the total circulating in the body.
Synthesis of fats
The liver synthesizes lipoproteins, cholesterol and phospholipids, which are the essential components of plasma membranes. Liver cells also use cholesterol to produce bile, a chemical with digestive capabilities.
Synthesis of bile
One of the main functions of the liver is the secretion of bile, an alkaline and bitter liquid containing water, sodium bicarbonate, bile salts, pigments, cholesterol and bilirubin, among other elements. About a liter of bile is secreted by the liver every day.
It is stored in the gallbladder, in a highly concentrated form until it is required to break down fats. Bile salts act as detergents, emulsifying fats and fragmenting their droplets, to increase their surface exposure to enzymes and, thus, facilitate the chemical transformation necessary for perfect absorption by the body.
Not by chance, the liver is the largest internal organ in the human body, second only to the skin, which is an external organ. It weighs about a pound and a half in adulthood. Children usually have a large abdomen because of the size of the liver, which is disproportionately bulky. In most children, it occupies about 40% of the abdominal cavity and accounts for approximately 4% of the total body weight. In an adult, it represents about 2.5% of the total weight.
Apparently smooth, in reality the surface of this organ is composed of 50 thousand to 100 thousand small lobes, each of which has a central vein inside. Hundreds of cells radiate from each vein, interwoven in a network of microscopic bile ducts and blood vessels called sinusoids, which transport blood loaded with oxygen and nutrients to liver cells.
Maintaining the health of this complex organ does not depend, contrary to what many people think, on the adopted diet.
It is not, for example, a high-fat diet that will cause liver disorders, although moderation in eating fatty foods is a wise measure for overall health. But, specifically in the case of the liver, what should be avoided is, in the first place, alcohol abuse, responsible for most of the cirrhosis cases diagnosed in Brazil (read box). Combating hepatitis is another key preventive measure. The viruses that cause hepatitis B and C eventually develop into cirrhosis or liver cancer.
And its carrier can live for years contaminated – and contaminating other people – until the first symptoms appear. According to Paulo Chap Chap, it is estimated that 1.5% of the population has the hepatitis C virus. This data was measured based on the percentage of contamination found in donations to blood banks.
Hepatitis B can be prevented with vaccination. There is still no effective vaccine against the C virus.
However, as its contamination is similar to that of AIDS (by blood and sperm), its prevention is also the same: safe sex, always. “The prevention of AIDS, with the improvement of the quality of blood banks and the use of condoms, is also helping us to avoid liver diseases”, celebrates the hepatologist Eduardo Carone.
The gallbladder and digestion
The gallbladder resembles a small pear and is located under the liver. It is a reservoir for the storage of bile, a fundamental liquid for the digestion of fats, produced by the liver. The vesicle is capable of storing all the bile produced for 12 hours by the liver cells and carried to it by the cystic cretal.
In this reservoir, bile loses part of the water it contains and is concentrated. When foods, especially fatty foods, pass through the duodenum (first portion of the small intestine), chemoreceptors are stimulated, causing the formation of the hormone cholecystokinin. This hormone promotes the contraction of the gallbladder. When she contracts, she throws bile over the chyme (food mixed with gastric juice) that is passing through the duodenum.
So-called gallstones, or stones, are formed by the crystallization of substances that make up bile, such as cholesterol and bilirubin. The stones often block the passage of bile to the duodenum, causing severe pain and interfering with the absorption of fats.
When this happens, removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) is usually the most indicated procedure. The removal of stones by laser beam is purely palliative, as they do not prevent the formation of others.
Living without the gallbladder is perfectly possible, as bile, in this case, starts to flow directly from the liver to the small intestine. However, the digestion time, especially of the fatty foods, tends to increase. The bile coming directly from the liver is not in the ideal concentration, nor is it released at the right times and in the right amounts. Therefore, the digestion of certain foods tends to become more difficult and slow.
Diseases that can destroy the liver
Chronic disease characterized by the destruction of liver cells and their replacement by scar tissue. These damages are irreversible and, if the cause of the disease is not treated in time, the process leads to total liver failure and death. Cirrhosis occurs more frequently in alcoholics, especially if their diet is poor.
Alcohol directly damages the liver cell, altering its metabolism and causing its death. Cirrhosis can also be due to heart failure or hepatitis.
It is an infection of the liver, which can be viral or non-viral (usually caused by drugs).
There are three known forms of viral hepatitis: type A, B or C.
Recently, a new virus, G, was discovered, but it is not yet known whether it also causes the disease.
Type A hepatitis is called infectious and is transmitted by contaminated food (mainly seafood), water, milk, semen, tears and feces. It is a generally benign disease, but in some rare cases it can come in the form of a fulminant infection, which kills in two to three weeks. A person who contracts type A hepatitis does not become a carrier, but an affected patient with type B carries the disease for an indefinite period.
Hepatitis B is transmitted by blood, saliva or semen, and usually has a slow and prolonged evolution (from 40 to 100 days). Some carriers of the B virus (HBV), however, develop chronic hepatitis, which can progress to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Although hepatitis B and AIDS have the same forms of transmission (sexual contact, contaminated blood), HBV is approximately 100 times more contagious than the AIDS virus. The third known form of hepatitis is type C, which usually results from transfusions of contaminated blood and can also develop into cirrhosis.
Treatment is done with drugs that improve the immune system, such as interferon. But the drug has strong side effects and not all patients respond positively.
For this reason, the best way to avoid the problem is to improve the quality of blood banks, the use of condoms during sexual intercourse and vaccination, which already exists for viruses A and B. Non-viral hepatitis is usually caused by exposure to chemical substances or drugs such as alcohol, pesticides, phosphorus, mercury, carbon tetrachloride and some antidepressant and anticancer drugs.
It is the increase in the amount of bile circulating in the blood, making the skin and sclera (white of the eye) yellow, due to the bile pigment, bilirubin.
It can have three different causes :
1 – Hemolytic jaundice
It occurs when red blood cells are destroyed in greater numbers than the liver is capable of supporting. It can be caused by blood disorders, such as sickle cell anemia, thalassemia and malaria.
2 – Liver jaundice
The liver’s ability to absorb bilirubin is impaired, usually due to viral hepatitis or the action of drugs such as alcohol and medication.
A similar situation occurs in neonatal jaundice: the liver, immature, is unable to excrete large amounts of bilirubin, due to deficiency in the production of enzymes.
In this case, ultraviolet rays are used to stimulate enzymes in the skin, preventing the bilirubin from exceeding acceptable levels in the blood and depositing in the brain, causing mental deficiency.
3 – Obstructive jaundice
It is produced when obstructions in the liver duct, caused mainly by stones or tumors, cause bilirubin to return from the liver cells into the sinusoids, the blood capillaries that transport blood to the liver cells.
Do liver problems cause migraines?
There is no proven relationship between headaches and kidney problems.
After drinking, is it good to take hepatoprotective drugs like Epocler and Metiocolin?
Such drugs, sold without a prescription and composed of mineral salts, amino acids and vitamins, have no protective effect on the liver.
For those who do not want to suffer harm from alcohol, there is only one advice: drink in moderation.
Fatty foods “attack” the liver?
No. Kidney failure victims may have difficulty digesting fats due to disturbances in bile metabolism.
Likewise, stones in the gallbladder can prevent the passage of bile, which is an essential substance in the digestion of fats. But those who have a healthy liver can eat fats without a problem.
Is artichoke good for the liver?
Pure folklore. Artichoke is just a tasty food.
How alcohol destroys the liver:
Worldwide, alcoholism is a major cause of liver disease.
Ethanol exerts a direct toxic action on the liver, since its metabolism takes place mainly in this organ. The more a person drinks, the more the liver increases its metabolism capacity, which translates into an increase in alcohol tolerance.
But the body pays a high price for this overwork: over time, changes in liver cells appear. Initially, steatosis occurs, that is, the accumulation of fat in the organ, making it yellow and enlarged.
This lesion is still reversible, but if the patient does not abandon the drink, it can progress to necrosis (death) of the cells and formation of fibrosis (scarring), characterizing what doctors call alcoholic hepatitis.
Even more serious is cirrhosis: in its advanced stage, the liver shrinks and its functions are irreversibly compromised.
Although high doses of ethanol are usually required to cause alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis, some men can develop liver disease with just 40 grams of pure alcohol a day, equivalent to two doses of distilled drink (drip, for example).
In women, half of that can already have the same harmful effects. This is explained by the fact that women absorb 30% more alcohol than men.
The female organism has more difficulty metabolizing alcohol, probably because it has more fat and less water than the male, which leads to an increase in the alcoholic concentration in the blood.
Worse, the number of women addicted to alcohol is increasing. According to the World Health Organization, while in the 70s there was one alcoholic woman in the country for every 20 men, today the ratio is 1 to 7. It is worth remembering, however, that alcoholism not only causes diseases, but it is also, itself a disease that requires treatment and can be cured.
The liver is a kind of filter for the human body. Anomalous (foreign) substances that fall into the bloodstream pass through it and there the impurities are cleared, such as alcohol and other toxic substances. This is one of the reasons why it is the infamous liver that bears the consequences when you exceed happy hour and drink more alcohol than the liver is capable of degrading.
Other liver functions include:
- Secretion of bile, a liquid that helps break down ingested fats, facilitating digestion
Store iron and certain vitamins in your cells;
- Synthesize various proteins present in the blood, immunological and coagulation factors and oxygen and fat transport substances;
- Destroy old or abnormal red blood cells (red blood cells), transforming your hemoglobin into liver tissue.
- Liver cells help the blood to assimilate nutrients and excrete waste materials and toxins, as well as steroids, estrogens and other hormones.
- Remove glucose molecules in the blood, bringing them together chemically to form glycogen, which is stored. When necessary, glycogen is converted into glucose molecules, which are relaunched in the circulation.
The liver is the largest gland in the human body, located on the right side of the abdomen, weighing between 1,300 and 1,500 grams in men and 1,200 grams in women. It consists of millions of cells, called hepatocytes.
Each cell is responsible for the production of several substances essential for the balance of the human organism.
It receives the venous blood that comes from most of the gastrointestinal tract through a large vein: the portal vein.
Body power plant
Responsible for more than 400 functions a day to keep the body healthy, the liver is extremely important. It works as a “power plant” producer of several substances.
The basic anatomy of the liver is simple, although it is a very complex organ and rich in particularities. It is located in the abdominal cavity, in the right hypochondrium, below the Diaphragm Muscle, laterally to the stomach, above the pancreas and anteriorly to the gallbladder.
Furthermore, the lower margin of the right lobe of the liver has an intimate contact with the large intestine.
The liver has four lobes: the right (the largest), the left, the square, the caudate.
Joining the left and right lobes, there is the sickle cell ligament; and making the junction between the liver and the Diaphragm Muscle, there are two ligaments: the triangular and the coronary.
It is irrigated mainly by the Hepatic Arteries, and is drained by the Lower Vena Cava and the Portal Vein, the latter being the main route of communication between the liver and the body.
Liver, the non-stop machine
It is a glandular mass that secretes bile, which helps digestion to neutralize the stomach acid chyme.
It is one of Organs most bulky organs in the human body and communicates with the small intestine.
The appearance of the organ
Large, reddish-brown in color, the liver is close to the stomach and is divided into lobes. The largest lobe is the right side and represents 5/6 of the entire organ.
There are two main blood supply channels: the portal vein and the hepatic artery. Blood with nutrients flows through the portal vein, while oxygen-rich blood arrives through the hepatic artery. Both are critical to the work the liver needs to do.
The liver is the largest internal organ in the body. It is also the largest and heaviest of the glands.
As a person ages, the size and weight of his liver changes: the organ weighs approximately 1.5 kg in the healthy adult (with blood the weight goes to about 2.5 kg) and when that adult reaches 60 years of age, the The liver may have been half the previous size.
What is normal: even small, the liver works efficiently – as long as it remains healthy.
The liver grows and reaches its maximum weight, about 1.5 kg, in adulthood. Around 50 years of age it starts to decrease. The most important thing, however, is not its size, but the integrity of its cells. The healthy liver, however small, works as well as a large one.
The liver produces about a liter of bile a day. This bitter liquid is stored in the gallbladder and helps the body to digest fats from food.
After we eat, the bile leaves the vesicle and goes to the duodenum (first part of the small intestine), where it penetrates through the Vater vial. There it finds the food and “breaks”, or separates, the fats so that they can be digested more easily.
In comparison, the detergents used in the kitchen work in a similar way: they “break” the grease from dirty dishes and make washing easier.
Among the many substances that bile contains are:
Pigments: Bilirubin and biliverdin, red and green tones, respectively.
Bile salts: They serve to neutralize the acidity of the bolus that reaches the duodenum from the stomach. Most bile salts return to the liver and are used again.
Blood comes out clean
The two main lobes of the liver , right and left, are divided into smaller, long and very similar parts, called lobes. When it reaches the liver, blood is directed to the lobules through thin veins and arteries.
The lobes work like real filters: they take care to clean the blood by removing toxic substances, or not necessary, that entered our organism mainly with food and drinks. This cleansing process never stops and is one of the most important functions of the liver.
It is the largest gland in the human organism. Massive, large, reddish organ located in the upper right portion of the abdomen. However, sometimes it may be occupying the entire upper 1/3 of the abdomen.
It is anatomically divided into 2 lobes (right, which is the largest, and the left). It weighs about 1000 to 3000 grams in adults.
It has several functions such as the production of blood coagulation elements, protein synthesis, it serves as a glucose reservoir (the main fuel of the human body), it produces bile (essential in the digestion of fats), etc…
The gallbladder has stuck to its surface
The liver produces bile. As already mentioned, it actively participates in the metabolism of lipids.
After being produced in the liver, bile travels through the bile ducts to the duodenum. The gallbladder is an organ that is in the middle of the path and has the function of storing this substance as well as dehydrating bile.
Therefore the gallbladder is not essential in the production of bile, but the liver.
Functionally the liver is divided into lobes and segments, each with its own blood supply. It is like a large vascular sponge with an extensive network of blood vessels. The blood that enters the liver contains nutrients and other products that are excreted and processed.
As a consequence, the blood that leaves the liver contains fewer substances. Liver cells – hapatocytes – are the main functional unit of the liver. They produce bile, distribute blood nutrients, store fat-soluble vitamins, and have an important role in detoxification.
HOW THE LIVER WORKS
The liver is after the brain the most complex organ in the body. Various functions are performed by this large organ, which weighs about 1.5 kg in adults.
Its largest portion is located in the upper right part of the abdomen.
Liver and neighboring organs
The main functions of Liver are:
Synthesis of albumin, transferrin and coagulation factors.
- Glycogen, triglycerides, iron and Vitamin A are stored in the liver.
- Homeostatic metabolism function, maintaining blood glucose (sugar) values.
- Detoxification function of drugs and ammonia.
- Synthesis and excretion of bile.
These functions are so important that it is impossible to live without liver
The liver is made up of strands of cells, the hepatocytes, which perform the functions we have listed. Blood from the viscera, rich in nutrients, enters through the branches of the portal vein.
Hepatocytes remove nutrients from the blood and can be stored, detoxified, used with energy or in the synthesis of new molecules. Molecules produced or modified in hepatocytes are released into blood vessels and bile ducts.
Located in the upper right portion of the abdomen, the liver and gallbladder are connected by ducts known as the bile ducts. However, despite this connection and the fact that the liver and gallbladder participate in some common functions, they are different. The liver, which has a wedge shape, is the body’s chemical element factory.
It is a complex organ that performs many vital functions, from regulating the concentration of chemicals in the body to producing substances that intervene in blood clotting during bleeding. On the other hand, the gallbladder, which has a pear shape, is simply a small reservoir of bile, a liquid produced by the liver that facilitates the digestion of food.
The liver is the largest and, in some ways, the most complex organ in the human body. One of its main functions is to degrade toxic substances absorbed from the intestine or produced in other areas of the body and then excrete them as harmless by-products through bile or blood. By-products of bile pass into the intestine and are eliminated from the body with feces.
Blood by-products are filtered through the kidneys and are then eliminated by the body in the urine. The liver produces approximately half of the body’s cholesterol. The rest comes from food. About 80% of the cholesterol produced by the liver is used in the production of bile.
Cholesterol is a vital part of the cell membrane and is necessary for the production of certain hormones (eg, estrogen, testosterone and adrenaline and norepinephrine). The liver also converts the substances contained in digested foods into proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Sugars are stored in the liver in the form of glycogen and, when necessary (eg, when the blood sugar concentration becomes very low), they are fractionated and released into the bloodstream as glucose. Another function of the liver is the synthesis of many important compounds, especially proteins, which the body uses to perform different functions.
Among them are substances necessary for the blood clotting process when bleeding occurs. These substances are known as clotting factors. The liver receives blood from both the intestine and the heart. Small capillaries in the intestinal wall flow into the portal vein, which penetrates the liver. Then, blood circulates through a network of small internal channels, inside the liver, where the processing of digested nutrients and harmful substances occurs.
The hepatic artery carries blood from the heart to the liver and the blood carries oxygen to the liver tissue itself, as well as cholesterol and other substances to be processed.
Then the blood from the intestine and the heart mix and circulate back to the heart through the hepatic vein.
Liver dysfunctions can be roughly divided into two groups: those caused by a dysfunction of the liver cells themselves (eg, cirrhosis or hepatitis) and those caused by an obstruction of the flow of bile secreted by the liver through the bile ducts (eg, gallstones or cancer).
Gallbladder and Bile Ducts
The gallbladder is a small muscle storage bag that contains bile, a yellowish-green viscous digestive secretion produced by the liver. Bile leaves the liver through the right and left hepatic ducts, which join to form the common hepatic duct. This duct then joins another one from the gallbladder, called the cystic duct, forming the common bile duct.
The common bile duct flows into the small intestine (in its upper part), at the level of Oddi’s sphincter, a few centimeters below the stomach.
Approximately 50% of the bile secreted between meals is diverted through the cystic duct to the gallbladder.
The rest of the bile flows directly through the common bile duct into the small intestine. When a person eats, the gallbladder contracts, draining its bile into the intestine to help digest fats and certain vitamins. Bile consists of bile salts, electrolytes, bile pigments (eg, bilirubin), cholesterol and other fats (lipids). It is responsible for the elimination of certain metabolic products from the body, especially pigments from the destruction of erythrocytes and excess cholesterol, and assists in the digestion and absorption of fats.
Bile salts increase the solubility of cholesterol, fats and fat-soluble vitamins (fat-soluble) to aid in their absorption from the intestine.
Hemoglobin originating from erythrocytes is transformed into bilirubin (the main pigment in bile) and excreted in bile as a metabolic product. In addition, several proteins that play important roles in bile function are secreted in bile.
Gallstones can obstruct the flow of bile from the gallbladder, causing pain (gallbladder) or inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis). The stones can also migrate from the gallbladder to the bile duct, where they can cause jaundice by blocking the normal flow of bile to the intestine. The flow can also be blocked by tumors and other less common causes.