The liver is an organ as unknown as it is memorable. Unlike the heart, brain, lungs, or stomach, which everyone knows how to locate, describe, and relate their functions, the liver is one of the great neglects of the body despite its essential role in maintaining the organism.
It is the heaviest internal organ, the largest, the most solid, the one that fulfills the most functions – leaving the brain aside – but is it true that the liver regenerates itself?
Next in, FastlyHealwe will give you all the information you should know about this vital organ.
What is liver
The liver is one of the essential organs in our body; it is the largest, crossing the entire abdominal cavity above the diaphragm.
Anatomically it is divided into two parts, the right and left lobe. Still, it is on the right, specifically below, where the gallbladder is located, the place of production and storage of bile. Microscopically it is divided into different units with independent functions, formed by channels, cords, and blood vessels, which serve as exchange zones.
Among the many peculiarities of the liver, it stands out that it is the only organ in the body that receives blood from two different sources. On the one hand, it receives blood from the heart through the hepatic artery and through the portal vein, which carries blood from the intestines to the liver.
What is the function of the liver?
The extreme importance of the liver is because it fulfills more than 500 functions of the body. However, these functions can be divided into three of the largest, which we will explain below:
- The first of the tasks that the liver fulfills is purification; in this organ, many of the toxins that enter the body are recovered and transformed, such as alcohol and the drugs we consume, making them harmless to the body before disposing of them for eliminating them, but also those produced by the body itself, such as ammonia. It is responsible for destroying the white and red blood cells that have aged and no longer perform their functions well.
- Another essential part of the liver is synthesis, as this organ has a vital role in the metabolism of lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins. Thanks to these functions, it also regulates blood clotting, preventing the body from bleeding.
- Finally, the liver also has a predominant role in the production and secretion of bile and the storage of fat-soluble vitamins and glycogen. Therefore it serves as an energy reserve, in the form of sugars, to supply them to the body when this one needs it.
Does the liver regenerate?
The time has come to answer the question we asked ourselves at the beginning, and the answer is that yes, the liver is capable of regeneration. This organ has the extraordinary quality of regenerating tissue after an injury caused by toxins, viruses, or partial excision.
The hepatocyte, the liver cells, when stimulated, can increase, thus recovering the lost tissue. This regeneration occurs in three phases; the first, the hepatocytes begin to replicate; the second, when the liver cells are expanding; and finally, when the liver mass and function are entirely restored, it stops suddenly. This process is called liver regeneration.
Does this mean that the liver is an indestructible organ?
The answer is no. Although the liver can regenerate, liver diseases or diseases that affect the liver, such as hepatitis or alcoholism, affect the entire organ, affecting its functions, including the ability to regenerate.
Liver cirrhosis, for example, causes cell death or necrosis, causing them to need to be replaced by new cells. The problem is that as it regenerates, scars appear, and grooves on its surface cause healthy cells to have no place to be located correctly with each new regeneration; instead, they are placed where they can, preventing them from fulfilling their functions perfectly.
It must also be taken into account that cell regeneration is not infinite; if the cause that causes cell death does not stop, the numbers of cells begin to decrease, making it increasingly difficult for them to fulfill their functions and causing organic failure. Life-threatening.
Liver regeneration is the liver’s response to the loss of its tissue. This answer is orchestrated and controlled by itself, caused by specific stimuli that cause changes in the structure and expression of genes.
Everything that surrounds liver regeneration has been extensively studied during the last 20 years, looking for answers that could help us cure diseases and ailments of other organs and the liver itself; today, we know more than we had ever known, and we can explain how this phenomenon occurs.
The liver cells of most mammals, including humans, have an exceptionally long life span of 300 to 400 days. Although they are generally in a quiescent state, at rest, they still maintain the ability to divide to deal with any injury.
It is believed that this ability arose during the evolutionary process to respond to liver damage and necrosis caused by toxins from the plants that were eaten. This curious phenomenon has been the subject of controversy for many years; already in 750 BC, the Greek poet Hesiod wrote a punishment that Zeus imposed on Prometheus, chaining him to a rock where a vulture ate his liver every day, which is regenerated at night to be eaten the next day again.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.