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Essay On Liver

The Liver Essay

The Liver:Facts, Functions, and Structure of

The liver is the largest organ in the entire, normal human body. It weighs anywhere from 2.5 to 3.3 pounds. With its large size it is also a very resilient organ. Up to 3/4 of its cells can be removed before is ceases to function. It is red-brown organ roughly shaped like a cone. The liver is located in the upper right abdominal cavity immediately beneath the diaphragm. Without the liver, we could not survive. It serves as the body’s chemical factory and it regulates the levels of most of the main chemicals in the blood. It is classified in the digestive system, because of the bile it produces. Bile is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Although it contains no digestive enzymes, bile does dilute and neutralize stomach acid, and it increases the efficiency of fat digestion and absorption. The liver is the organ that allows us to drink alcohol. With the help of the kidneys, the liver clears the blood of drugs, alcohol, and other poisonous substances by absorption. It then alters the chemical structure of the substance absorbed, makes them water soluble, and excretes it in the bile. From there, the bile carries waste, including the absorbed substance, to the small intestine, taking a pitstop at the gallbladder, where it also helps in the breakdown and absorption of fats present.
     The liver also produces albumin, compliment, coagulation factors, and globin; all important proteins for blood plasma. Albumin regulates the exchange of water between blood and tissues. Compliment is a group of proteins that plays a part in the immune system’s defenses against infection. Coagulation factors enable blood to clot when a blood vessel wall is damaged. Globin is a major component of the oxygen-carrying pigment hemoglobin. Yet another function of the liver is to produce synthesized cholesterol and special proteins that carry fats around the body.
     Along with producing many important substances, it also stores a lot of important substances as well. It receives glucose ,not immediately needed, from the hepatic portal vein and stores it as glycogen. When the body needs more energy and heat, the liver converts the stored glycogen back to glucose and releases it into the bloodstream to be used. As with the blood, the liver also regulates the blood level of amino acids, chemicals that form the building blocks of proteins. After we eat a meal, our blood contains too high a level of amino acids. The liver converts some of these acids into glucose, proteins, other amino acids, and urea, which is passed to the kidneys for excretion in the urine.

Structure
     The liver contains two main lobes, left and right, which are separated by the falciform ligament, a connective tissue septum. The liver also consists of two minor...

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The liver is the workhorse of the human body, fulfilling such a wide range of roles that our overall health is in large part a reflection of the liver’s health. Yet, for a variety of reasons—not the least of which include its spongy consistency, intimate association with bile, and inescapable reputation as a garbage disposal—the liver is also one of our most under-appreciated organs.

Anterior and posterior views of the liver. (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.)

Wedged beneath the lower right rib cage and occupying much of the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, the liver is the largest organ in the human body. In adults, it weighs between 2.6 and 3.5 pounds and measures about 8 inches across, being smaller in women and larger in men.

The liver is also the most complex organ in the body in terms of function. The work of the liver can be divided into three primary categories: metabolism, filtration of blood, and secretion. Its metabolic functions include the breakdown of nutrients and drugs brought to the liver in blood coming from the intestinal tract. Once broken down into useful components, the substances are either transported by the blood from the liver to other tissues or are stored in the liver for future use. An example of a stored nutrient is glycogen, which remains in the liver until it is summoned and released to supply energy needs.

Microscopic structure of the liver. (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.)

The liver serves a very important role as a vascular filter. Some 1,450 milliliters of blood circulate through the liver every minute, and during that time, the organ not only extracts wastes and toxic matter from the blood but also regulates overall blood volume. The extensive network of blood vessels within the lobes of the liver can hold about 10 percent of the body’s blood volume. The volume of blood it stores is determined primarily by the pressure of blood entering and leaving the organ, with low pressures triggering the release of stored blood and vice versa.

In addition, each day the liver secretes roughly one quart of bile, which contains bile salts that facilitate the digestion of fats. Bile also plays a central role in waste removal, picking up waste products from the blood and transporting them through a series of ducts for excretion through the intestine. Jaundice—a yellowing of the eyes and skin, often occurring in newborns—arises as a result of overproduction of bile, blockage of bile movement through the liver’s duct system, or leakage of bilirubin (the pigment of bile) into the bloodstream.

Human liver in relation to other organs. (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.)


A variety of other conditions can affect the liver, among the most common of which include cancer, certain hereditary disorders (e.g., glycogen storage diseases), and drug-induced damage. Because of its proficiency in metabolizing alcohol, the liver is also the primary site of damage from alcohol consumption, with cirrhosis being a common manifestation of alcoholism.

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