Image Caption : The liver is a remarkable multi-tasker. It detoxifies blood; regulates glucose, protein and fat metabolism; stores A, D and B vitamins; and produces key enzymes and hormones.

The liver is the body's central chemical plant, filtering blood and removing toxins, storing sugars and lipids and producing proteins such as albumin and those that are involved in blood clotting. The liver also produces most of body's supply of cholesterol (the rest comes from food).


The liver is located primarily in the right hypochondriac and epigastric regions of the abdomen, just beneath the diaphragm. It is the largest gland in the body. On the surface, the liver is divided into two major lobes and two smaller lobes. The functional units of the liver are lobules with sinusoids that carry blood from the periphery to the central vein of the lobule.

The liver receives blood from two sources. Freshly oxygenated blood is brought to the liver by the common hepatic artery, a branch of the celiac trunk from the abdominal aorta. Blood that is rich in nutrients from the digestive tract is carried to the liver by the hepatic portal vein.

The liver has a wide variety of functions and many of these are vital to life. Hepatocytes perform most of the functions attributed to the liver, but the phagocytic Kupffer cells that line the sinusoids are responsible for cleansing the blood.

Liver functions include the following:

  • secretion
  • synthesis of bile salts
  • synthesis of plasma protein
  • storage
  • detoxification
  • excretion
  • carbohyrate metabolism
  • lipid metabolism
  • protein metabolism
  • filtering

National Cancer Institute / National Institutes of Health

The liver is a vital organ of vertebrates and some other animals. In the human it is located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, below the diaphragm. The liver has a wide range of functions, including detoxification of various metabolites, protein synthesis, and the production of biochemicals necessary for digestion.

The liver is a gland and plays a major role in metabolism with numerous functions in the human body, including regulation of glycogen storage, decomposition of red blood cells, plasma protein synthesis, hormone production, and detoxification. It is an accessory digestive gland and produces bile, an alkaline compound which aids in digestion via the emulsification of lipids. The gallbladder, a small pouch that sits just under the liver, stores bile produced by the liver. The liver's highly specialized tissue consisting of mostly hepatocytes regulates a wide variety of high-volume biochemical reactions, including the synthesis and breakdown of small and complex molecules, many of which are necessary for normal vital functions. Estimates regarding the organ's total number of functions vary, but textbooks generally cite it being around 500.

Terminology related to the liver often starts in hepar- or hepat- from the Greek word for liver, hēpar (ἧπαρ, root hepat-, ἡπατ-).

There is currently no way to compensate for the absence of liver function in the long term, although liver dialysis techniques can be used in the short term. Liver transplantation is the only option for complete liver failure.

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