It is the heaviest internal organ and largest gland in the body, weighing about 1.2 – 1.5 kg in an adult human.
It is located in the upper right side of the abdominal cavity and is reddish brown in colour.
It has two main lobes (larger right lobe & smaller left lobe) and two small lobes (quadrate lobe & caudate lobe) present behind the main lobes.
The two main right and left lobes are separated by the falciform ligament.
The liver consists of small structural and functional units called hepatic lobules.
The lobules are roughly hexagonal, and consist millions of glycogen-rich cells, the hepatocytes (hepatic cells).
Each lobule is covered by a thin connective tissue sheath known as Glisson’s capsule.
The mammalian liver also contains phagocytic cells known as Kupffer cells. They engulf dead WBCs, RBCs and pathogens.
A thin-walled, sac like structure, the gall bladder, lies in the lower surface of the right lobe. It stores and concentrates bile secreted by the liver cells.
The duct of gall bladder is called cystic duct.
The cystic duct is connected with common hepatic duct to form bile duct which passes downward and is joined by the pancreatic duct to form hepatopancreatic duct.
The hepatopancreatic duct is connected with duodenum through a hepatopancreatic ampulla which is guarded by a sphincter called the sphincter of Oddi.
There are two distinct sources that supply blood to the liver: oxygenated blood flows in, from the hepatic artery and nutrient-rich (deoxygenated) blood flows in, from the hepatic portal vein.
Filtration of blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body.
Regulation of blood sugar level through glycogenesis (conversion of excess glucose into glycogen) and glycogenolysis (conversion of glycogen into glucose).
Performs gluconeogenesis (formation of glucose from non-carbohydrate source).
Controls lipogenesis (conversion of excess glucose and amino acids into fats).
Acts as haemolytic organ (breaks old RBCs).
Secretes angiotensinogen, that later forms angiotensin – a peptide hormone and a potent dipsogen (agent that causes thirst). Angiotensin is also a part of renin-angiotensin system (a hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance).
Detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs.
Secretes bile – an alkaline fluid having several organic and inorganic salts that helps in the emulsification of fats.
Storage of glucose in the form of glycogen, mineral like copper, iron etc as well storage of vitamins like vitamin A, D, E, K and B12.
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