Liver: Anatomy, Functions and Liver Disease Biology Notes

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Enhance your knowledge of liver anatomy, functions, and diseases with comprehensive biology notes for competitive exams.

Liver

  • Positioned in the upper right portion of the abdominal cavity, below the diaphragm.
  • Situated above the stomach, right kidney, and intestines.
  • Largest gland in the human body.
  • Performs crucial functions for the body’s well-being.
  • The only organ in the body with this remarkable regenerative capacity.
Anatomy of the liver
Anatomy of the liver (Photo Credit: hopkinsmedicine.org)
Read Also: 6 Facts Everyone Should Know About The Liver

Anatomy of the liver

Appearance

  • Shaped like a Triangular.
  • Dark reddish-brown organ.
  • Weighs approximately 3 pounds.

Blood Supply

  • Two sources supply blood to the liver:
  • Oxygenated blood from the hepatic artery.
  • Nutrient-rich blood from the hepatic portal vein.

Blood Volume

  • The liver holds about one pint (13%) of the body’s blood supply.

Internal Structure

  • Consists of two main lobes.
  • Each lobe has eight segments, composed of 1,000 lobules.
  • Lobules are connected to small ducts that join larger ducts forming the common hepatic duct.
  • Common hepatic duct transports bile to the gallbladder and duodenum through the common bile duct.

Structural Details

  • Triangular and bilobed structure.
  • The larger right lobe and smaller left lobe are separated by the falciform ligament.
  • Covered by Glisson’s capsule, a layer of fibrous tissue, which is protected by the peritoneum.

Blood Sources

  • Hepatic Portal Vein carries nutrient-rich blood from the digestive system.
  • Hepatic Artery carries oxygenated blood from the heart.

Functions of the liver

  • Regulates various chemical levels in the blood.
  • Produces bile, aiding in waste removal and fat breakdown during digestion.

Blood Processing

  • All blood from the stomach and intestines passes through the liver for processing.
  • The liver breaks down, balances, and creates nutrients in the blood.
  • Metabolizes drugs into user-friendly or non-toxic forms for the body.

Vital Functions

  • Over 500 vital functions are identified in the liver.

Well-Known Functions

  • Production of bile for waste removal and fat breakdown in the small intestine during digestion.
  • Synthesis of proteins for blood plasma.
  • The production of cholesterol and proteins facilitates fat transport through the body.
  • Conversion of excess glucose into glycogen for storage and glucose balance as needed.

Blood Regulation

  • Regulates blood levels of amino acids, essential for protein synthesis.

Hemoglobin Processing

  • Processes hemoglobin, storing iron within the liver.

Ammonia Conversion

  • Converts poisonous ammonia to urea, excreted in urine.

Detoxification and Immune Support

  • Clears blood of drugs and toxins.
  • Regulates blood clotting.
  • Resists infections by producing immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream.

Bilirubin Clearance

  • Clears bilirubin, a by-product of red blood cells.
  • Accumulation causes yellowing of the skin and eyes.

By-Product Excretion

  • After breaking down harmful substances, by-products are excreted.
  • Bile by-products enter the intestine, leaving the body in feces.
  • Blood by-products are filtered by the kidneys, leaving the body in urine.

Regeneration of Liver

  • The ability to regrow is present in all vertebrates.
  • Functions of the liver remain intact during the regrowth process.

Regeneration Duration

  • In humans, regeneration takes approximately 8-15 days.
  • In mice, the same process occurs in a shorter timeframe, around 5-7 days.

Liver Diseases

Fascioliasis

  • Caused by a parasite known as the “liver fluke.”
  • Parasites can remain inactive in the liver for extended periods, ranging from months to years.

Cirrhosis

  • Caused by factors like alcohol consumption, toxins, and hepatitis.
  • Scar tissue replaces liver cells, a process called fibrosis, leading to liver cell functionality loss.
  • May result in liver failure.

Hepatitis

  • Inflammation of the liver caused by viruses like hepatitis A, B, and C.
  • Often progresses to liver failure.

Alcoholic Liver Disease

  • Liver damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Primary contributor to cirrhosis.

Fatty Liver Disease

  • Result of alcohol abuse or obesity.
  • Fat accumulates in liver cells, forming vacuoles.

Liver Cancer

  • Mainly caused by alcohol and hepatitis.
  • Two primary types: Hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma.

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