Liver: Anatomy and Functions

The liver is the largest solid organ of our body, accounting for almost 2% of adult body weight and weighing around 1.5 kg. The liver is responsible for essential tasks such as aiding in digestion, storing energy, and eliminating toxins. Additionally, it regulates blood clotting, produces enzymes and proteins, stores vitamins, produces bile, and helps maintain hormonal balance.

Anatomy of Liver

The liver is a large, reddish-brown organ located on the right side of the abdomen beneath the diaphragm and on top of the stomach. The liver is divided into two main lobes, and each lobe consists of thousands of small hexagonally-shaped units called lobules. These lobules are tiny in size. Within each lobule, there are numerous hepatocytes which are functional cells of the liver. The lobules are connected to small bile ducts that ultimately connect with larger ducts to form the common hepatic duct. The common hepatic duct transports bile produced by liver cells to the gallbladder and the duodenum (the initial portion of the small intestine).

The liver is linked to two major blood vessels: the portal vein and the hepatic artery. The portal vein transports blood from the digestive system, pancreas, and spleen, carrying nutrients to the liver. On the other hand, the hepatic artery carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the liver. These blood vessels branch out into small capillaries, each ending in a liver lobule, ensuring hepatocytes receive blood supply.

Function of Liver

  • Bile production which aids in the digestion of fats and helps eliminate waste from the body.
  • Synthesis of specific proteins necessary for blood plasma.
  • Production of cholesterol and specialized proteins that assist in the transportation of fats throughout the body.
  • Conversion of excess glucose into glycogen for storage, which can later be converted back to glucose to provide energy. The liver also helps maintain glucose balance.
  • Regulation of blood levels of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.
  • Processing of haemoglobin to utilize its iron content. The liver acts as a storage site for iron.
  • Conversion of toxic ammonia into urea, a by-product of protein metabolism excreted in urine.
  • It acts like a filter for the blood, removing drugs and other harmful substances from it
  • Regulation of blood clotting.
  • Protects against infections by producing immune factors and eliminating bacteria from the bloodstream.
  • Clearance of bilirubin, a substance derived from the breakdown of red blood cells. Accumulation of bilirubin can cause yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).

Once the liver has broken-down harmful substances, their by-products are eliminated into bile or the bloodstream. By-products carried in bile enter the intestine and are eventually excreted as feces. On the other hand, by-products in the blood are filtered by the kidneys and expelled from the body as urine.

Select your Location

Please select your nearest location from the list below