Fried, George H. Brooklyn College, City University of New York, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:August 2019
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- Comparative anatomy
- Nonhuman vertebrates
- Parenchymal cells
- Sinusoidal lining cells
- Connective tissue
- Control of carbohydrate metabolism
- Interconversion of metabolites
- Blood protein manufacture
- Erythropoietic function
- Bile formation
- Vitamin storage
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A large gland and internal organ found in all vertebrates. The liver is vital for proper functioning of vertebrate animals. As the largest gland and internal organ (a differentiated structure adapted for a specific function) of the vertebrate body, it executes numerous tasks that affect other body systems. For example, the liver is necessary for the secretion of bile, the manufacturing of certain blood proteins and enzymes, and the removal of toxins from the systemic circulation. Moreover, the liver is a key structure needed for the interconversion of many metabolites. It is a major site of production of fatty acids, triglycerides, phospholipids, ketone bodies, and cholesterol. In addition, steroid hormones are degraded in the liver. Structurally, the liver (Fig. 1) consists of a continuous parenchymal mass forming a system of walls (muralium) through which venous blood from the gut must pass. This strategic localization between nutrient-laden capillary beds and the general circulation is associated with hepatic (liver-related) regulation of metabolite levels in the blood through storage and mobilization mechanisms controlled by liver enzymes. See also: Blood; Cholesterol; Enzyme; Fat and oil; Gland; Hormone; Ketone; Phospholipid; Protein; Steroid; Toxin; Triglyceride (triacylglycerol); Vertebrata
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