10 Important And Very Useful Functions Of Liver You Need To Know

Functions Of Liver:

Liver is the largest gland and one of the vital organs of the body, It performs many vital metabolic and homeostatic functions, which are summarized below.

1- Metabolic Function:

Liver is the organ where maximum metabolic reactions such as metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and many hormones are carried out.

2- Storage Function:

Many substances like glycogen, amino acids, iron, folic acid and vitamins A, B12 and D are stored in liver.

3- Synthetic Function:

Liver produces glucose by gluconeogenesis. It synthesizes all the plasma proteins and other proteins (except immunoglobulins) such as clotting factors, complement factors and hormone-binding proteins. It also synthesizes steroids, somatomedin and heparin.

4- Secretion Of Bile:

Liver secretes bile which contains bile salts, bile pigments, cholesterol, fatty acids and lecithin. The functions of bile are mainly due to bile salts. Bile salts are required for digestion and absorption of fats in the intestine. Bile helps to carry away waste products and breakdown fats, which are excreted through feces or urine.

5- Excretory Function:

Liver excretes cholesterol, bile pigments, heavy metals (like lead, arsenic and bismuth), toxins, bacteria and virus (like that of yellow fever) through bile.

6- Heat Production:

Enormous amount of heat is produced in the liver because of metabolic reactions. Liver is the organ where maximum heat is produced.

7- Hemopoietic Function:

In fetus (hepatic stage), liver produces the blood cells (Chapter 10). It stores vitamin B12 necessary for erythropoiesls and iron necessary for synthesis of hemoglobin. Liver produces that promotes production of thrombocytes.

8- Hemolytic Function:

The senile RBCs after a lifespan of 120 days are destroyed by reticuloendothelial cells (Kupffer cells) of liver.

9- Inactivation Of Hormones And Drugs:

Liver catabolizes the hormones such as growth hormone, parathormone, cortisol, insulin, glucagon and estrogen. It also inactivates the drugs, particularly the fat-soluble drugs. The fat-soluble drugs are converted into water-soluble substances, which are excreted through bile or urine.

10- Defensive And Detoxification Functions:

Reticuloendothelial cells (Kupffer cells) of the liver play an important role in the defense of the body Liver is also involved in the detoxification of the foreign bodies.

  • Foreign bodies such as bacteria or antigens are swallowed and digested by reticuloendothelial cells of liver by means of phagocytosis.
  • Reticuloendothelial cells of liver also produce substances like interleukins and tumor necrosis factors, which activate the immune system of the body.
  • Liver cells are involved in the removal of toxic property of various harmful substances. Removal of toxic property of the harmful agent is known as detoxification.

Detoxification in liver occurs in two ways:

  • Total destruction of the substances by means of metabolic degradation.
  • Conversion of toxic substances into nontoxic materials by means of conjugation with glucuronic acid or sulfates.

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