Body processes

Liver Metabolism – Function, Task & Diseases

Liver Metabolism

The liver is the largest gland in the human body. It is also a vital organ, since the liver metabolism is at the center of the entire metabolism .

What is liver metabolism?

The liver metabolism not only plays an important role in the detoxification of the blood . The liver is also able to store nutrients contained in the blood. Thus, in the event of a deficiency, the affected cells can be supplied with nutrients again via the blood. The liver consequently controls the metabolism of glucose , proteins and fats .

For example, when the body is starved of glucose, the liver breaks down glycogen stores and releases glucose into the blood. Previously, glucose was converted into glycogen and stored. Vitamins can also be stored by the liver when the body does not need them immediately.

function & task

Without the liver, the metabolism in the human body could not function properly. For example , when blood sugar levels drop, the liver can release glucose (grape sugar) back into the blood. The liver also produces the coagulation factors that are needed in the event of injuries so that the blood can clot. When there is inflammation in the body , the liver can produce C-reactive protein (CRP). Furthermore, proteins are formed by the metabolic organ, which are required for the transport of fats and hormones in the blood. The liver also produces the body’s own cholesterol , which is necessary for the formation of bileis needed. The liver produces a liter of bile per day. Only then can the fats in the food be digested. 

In addition to its function as a metabolic organ, the liver is also a very important detoxification organ. Toxic substances are repeatedly produced in the organism during metabolism, which have to be broken down. The liver converts these into harmless substances. For example, toxic ammonia becomes urea , which no longer poses a threat to the body. Their most well-known function is the breakdown of alcohol . For every ten kilograms of body weight, the liver converts 1 gram of alcohol into non-toxic acetic acid.

Ultimately, however, the breakdown of alcohol creates fat, which means that excessive consumption of alcohol leads to higher levels of fat in the body.

The liver can also filter substances from the blood. These include hormones, old or defective cells and bacteria . Water-insoluble substances are excreted via the intestines and water-soluble substances via the blood, kidneys and finally the urine . For example, drugs that have fulfilled their function are drained from the body.

From the seventh month of pregnancy, the liver is also responsible for blood formation in the fetus . This shows how diverse and vital the liver metabolism is.

Diseases & Ailments

If the liver is fed more pollutants than it can break down, what is known as fatty liver can occur. When there is an increased amount of pollutants, the liver needs almost all of the oxygen in the blood . From this point on, fat burning is severely restricted, which is why the fat is stored in the liver. This enlarges the detoxification organ and occasionally there can be a feeling of pressure in the upper right abdomen at the costal arch. However, most patients usually feel nothing of it. 

Fatty liver occurs mainly in people who are overweight , alcohol addicted or diabetic . Sometimes it can also occur during pregnancy . In the case of a fatty liver, the liver function is not yet impaired, which is why weight loss, alcohol withdrawal and a low-carbohydrate diet can lead to a regression of the fatty liver.

There are also different forms of liver inflammation ( hepatitis ). The forms and causes are varied, but the inflammation is most commonly transmitted by viruses . A distinction is made between hepatitis A , B , C , D and E.

First of all, flu-like symptoms appear with such a disease, which are accompanied by pain under the right costal arch. In the further course, jaundice often occurs , in which the eyeballs and the skin have a yellowish hue. Inflammation of the liver also impairs bile formation, causing faeces to become discolored and urine darkened.

Years of alcohol or drug abuse or inflammation of the liver can result in liver cirrhosis . At this stage, connective tissue develops at the site of the dead gland tissue , which permanently damages the liver function. Patients with cirrhosis of the liver often suffer from fatigue and gastrointestinal problems . Hormonal imbalances can also occur.

Since the blood flow is also impaired, ascites , hemorrhoids and varicose veins in the abdomen and esophagus can also occur. Varicose veins in the esophagus can sometimes lead to fatal bleeding . Here, too, patients often feel a feeling of pressure in the lower right costal arch and the skin develops “corporeal signs”.

Since the central nervous system is also affected, cirrhosis of the liver can lead to inner restlessness , memory disorders and even dangerous liver coma. This liver disease cannot be cured and increases the risk of liver cancer. Liver cancer is particularly insidious because the symptoms usually appear very late. Around 6,000 people in Germany are diagnosed with it every year.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.