The functions of the liver

After the heart, the liver constitutes one of the major organs of our organism. Although many diseases affect the liver in an insidious manner and are not accompanied by major symptoms, the termination of this organ, which begins with a stage of advanced cirrhosis, confirms its essential character for life.

                  The liver is capable of regenerating properties quite extraordinary. These had already been suspected by the ancients in the form of the myth of Prometheus. Greek mythology tells us that this Titan was punished by Zeus, whom he had deceived, and was chained to a rock in the Caucasus, condemning him to the eternal torment of seeing his liver continually reborn, eaten away by an eagle. This hepatic regeneration is a fundamental phenomenon that governs the healing of patients with a fulminant form of liver failure. 
This can be due to viruses, notably B viruses, but also to medicines or fungi. The icteric patient (yellow) then presents with consciousness disorders and quickly a coma with important anomalies of the coagulation. Only 20% of these patients admitted to specialized resuscitation services recover without sequelae through the production of a hepatic growth factor that allows noble hepatic cells known as hepatocytes free of infection to multiply More quickly to ensure the main functions of the liver. It is at this stage that hepatic transplantation has upset the prognosis of this formidable disease.

General information on the major functions of the liver

The liver is the most voluminous of all organs And weighs about 1.5 kg in the adult man. Its color is generally brown red with a fairly firm consistency. Its increase in volume can therefore be palpated by the doctor during certain diseases. It consists of two lobes which themselves are subdivided into hepatic segments which are well demonstrated by radiological imaging (ultrasound, CT scan and MRI).


 The liver contains very few nerve filaments which are mostly present at the level of the capsule, which envelops the liver and give it its sensitivity. This explains why most liver diseases are painful and can develop very slowly without people noticing it. The liver also has the unique feature of receiving blood from large veins: the first, the vein carries the digestive tract, and thus bring the nutrients to the liver for transformation, and the others, called suprahepatic veins, bring back the blood Purified toxic substances to the heart. This very particular situation will cause haemorrhagic complications when the liver has become very fibrous or cirrhotic will form a block preventing the blood from flowing normally in a large dilated port vein and will give varicose veins in the stomach and the lungs, esophagus. As a result of increased pressure, these vessels will rupture and cause life-threatening digestive hemorrhages. The liver also plays a major role in the manufacture and excretion of bile. This is stored in the vesicle and its contents are poured into the digestive tract after each meal to promote the absorption of fat. In case of obstruction of the bile duct that connects the liver to the duodenum or in the case of terminal hepatic insufficiency, some components of the bile are responsible for characteristic jaundice. This is due to the deposition of bilirubin, resulting from the destruction of the red blood cells by the spleen, which can not be transformed by liver or pass through the obstructed bile ducts.

The liver thus occupies a strategic place in the organism And receives 1.5 liters per minute of blood from the portal vein and the hepatic artery. It therefore contributes to the regulation of the blood circulation and to the manufacture of coagulation factors essential to avoid bleeding in case of injury. This is particularly true when the liver is the site of cirrhosis, characterized by fibrous tissue surrounding liver nodules disconnected from the vascular system and consequently non-functional.


The nutrients and drugs absorbed in the digestive tract, but also the bacteria must necessarily this organ before reaching the other tissues of the body. It has the structure of a sponge or the blood circulates between spans of hepatocytes thus will play a primordial filter role on the one hand to transform nutrients (degradation of food into proteins, lipids, carbohydrates) and to manufacture compounds Non-toxic to the body. A typical example is represented by the synthesis of cholesterol which is made from fats and which will then gain blood circulation but also be degraded or metabolized to pass into the bile.

The liver will also allow the transformation of ammonia, produced in the intestine, into urea which is toxic to especially brain cells. The liver will also be a storage organ of sugars to turn them into a substance called glycogen. In case of heavy effort or fasting the liver will be able to release its sugars in the blood circulation and thus maintain a stable blood glucose level (blood sugar level) that is easily dosed in all laboratories of medical analysis . This function is thus essential to avoid hypoglycaemia. From the proteins the liver will allow the transformation of ammonia, which is toxic to the cells especially cerebral, into urea. Finally, the liver is essential in the processing of drugs that are absorbed or injected intravenously. A large part is neutralized to avoid, with the aid of the kidney, a dangerous accumulation in the organism.

How to spare your liver?

More generally, the foods we absorb and the toxics we are exposed to are made harmless by the liver that transforms them and inhibits their toxicity before they are eliminated. This is particularly true for certain plants which are considered to be harmless or curative, which may in the long run be detrimental to this organ and also to alcohol which in all its forms is a potent toxic substance unknown to the general public. It affects the liver in a silent manner and causes serious illness in the long run. 
The dose limit not to be exceeded to considerably varied since the beginning of the century passing from 6 glasses per day to 2 glasses daily. The myth of wine that makes strong and shows a certain virility nevertheless has life hard and many are still those who regularly drink large quantities of alcohol without realizing the irreparable damage they inflict on their liver. The female sex is even more sensitive and low doses ingested during 10 to 20 years can cause true cirrhosis. It is then very difficult to be able to return to the previous state and doctors are often disarmed in front of this condition which can, through its hemorrhagic complications, the repeated presence of ascites (in the belly), jaundice or complications Neuro-psychic, put the lives of patients at risk.

If you wish to maintain good health, you must therefore conserve your liver, that is to say:


 Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol Including repeated daily doses that are in the long run more detrimental than the weekend holidays.

 Do not consume indiscriminately medicines and plants without medical supervision, be wary against some so-called natural products and presented as harmless


 avoid behavior especially drug users and sex Which can be the source of viral infections (virus B, C, HIV). We remind you that you can prevent yourself effectively against A and B viruses by having you vaccinated and that the excessive media coverage surrounding the risks of vaccination against hepatitis B is disproportionate and only concerns the vaccination of the adolescent and the Patients with a history of multiple sclerosis. It is therefore strongly advised to vaccinate infants and adults at risk (subjects staying in Asia and black Africa, individuals with multiple sexual partners, whether homosexual or heterosexual, drug addicts). In general, care must be taken when using an object that can be contaminated by viruses (needles, razors, toothbrushes, etc.).


 Do not take or keep excessive overweight Whose harmful effect on the liver has recently been brought to light. Indeed, the accumulation of fat in the liver, called steatosis, was often regarded by physicians as a benign curiosity. Acute complications, the form of inflammation, called NASH, resembling that caused by massive or chronic alcoholism, leading to cirrhosis, remind us of the misdeeds of a diet that is too rich to affect not only the system cardiovascular.