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Video: Function Of The Liver
Liver: structure & function
The liver (hepar in ancient Greek) is the largest metabolic organ in the human body at around 1,500 g. The healthy liver has a soft, elastic consistency, a dark rust-brown color and a slightly reflective surface. The liver, which consists of two large lobes - the right and left lobes - and two small lobes lies below the diaphragm and fills a large part of the right upper abdomen. It is closely related to other organs such as the stomach, gall bladder, pancreas, small intestine, right kidney and adrenal gland.
The division of the liver into eight segments results from the branching pattern of the branches of arteries, veins and bile ducts. The liver consists of a multitude of tiny lobules, about one to two millimeters in size, which form functional units and are composed of liver cells (hepatocytes).
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What are the functions of the liver?
The diverse functions of the liver are performed by all liver cells, but to a different extent. Their capacity to fulfill these diverse tasks is extremely large. Only a loss of more than 80 percent of liver tissue is no longer compatible with life. Since the liver has a special ability to regenerate, acute and chronic damage can be coped with relatively well.
The main functions of the liver are:
- Formation of bile,
- Conversion of sugar molecules into starch,
- Storage of starch and provision of sugar molecules from starch,
- Generation of energy by breaking down fats,
- Conversion of fats into storage fat,
- Storage and provision of certain vitamins and trace elements,
- Formation of raw materials (cholesterol) for sex hormones,
- Detoxification of endogenous and foreign substances (including alcohol, pollutants and toxins as well as drugs) - so-called biotransformation,
- Participation in immune functions,
- Formation of amino acids,
- Formation of proteins (plasma proteins - e.g. coagulation factors) as well
- Storage and delivery of blood.
Important role in the bloodstream
The liver's metabolic processes require a lot of oxygen and generate heat. The liver receives 1.1 liters of blood per minute from the circulatory system via the portal vein (Vena portae) from the abdominal organs - e.g. from the small intestine and spleen - and 400 milliliters per minute of oxygen-rich blood via the hepatic artery (Arteria hepatica). It controls 1.5 liters of blood per minute, which corresponds to 30 percent of the circulation.
In contrast to other organs (e.g. kidneys), the liver adapts to an increased or decreased need for oxygen by changing the oxygen uptake from the blood and not by changing the size of the blood flow. If necessary, the liver's oxygen reserve is two to three times its normal oxygen consumption. Due to its abundance of vessels, the liver forms a blood reservoir upstream of the right atrium of the heart, which can temporarily hold approx. 500 milliliters of blood in addition to the normal capacity of approx.
Metabolism and digestion
The liver absorbs all substances that are supplied to it via the blood of the portal vein and the hepatic artery. It processes and / or stores many of these substances in order to then release them into the bloodstream and the biliary tract system. This property makes the liver the largest gland in the human body. The excretion product, the bile, contains salts of the bile acids, which are important for the digestion and absorption of fats.