As you probably know by now, the liver has the power to regenerate itself. Check out the latest tips and tricks in order to be able to help this super-organ.
Regenerating the liver
The human liver is an exceptional organ that can regenerate itself, similar to a phoenix rising from the ashes. It is the largest internal organ in our body and possesses an outstanding ability for self-repair.
Even after removing up to 90 percent, it can regrow to its full size and function normally. Moreover, partial livers transplanted into the body can grow to completion within a few weeks.
According to a recent German study, the liver is always less than three years old on average, regardless of a person’s age. The organ’s ability to renew liver cells remains unaffected by aging, making it perpetually youthful.
With proper health, even older individuals can have young livers.
These regenerative abilities are crucial for the liver’s numerous vital roles, including bile production, synthesis of plasma proteins and cholesterol, regulation of blood glucose, processing of hemoglobin, detoxification of blood, regulation of clotting, and removal of bacteria from the bloodstream.
Regeneration capability of the liver
According to Dr. Brian Kessler, a specialist in sports medicine, pain management, and rehabilitative medicine, the liver’s unique cellular structure and division into lobes contribute to its regenerative abilities.
The liver is made up of four lobes – left, right, caudate, and quadrate – each of which can regrow independently.
However, if one or more lobes are removed, they will not grow back. Instead, the remaining lobes compensate by undergoing hyperplasia, proliferating and expanding until the liver regains its original mass, and taking over the functions of the removed lobes. Although the liver’s overall shape may be permanently altered, its function is fully restored after regeneration.
Liver cells divide for repopulation
The liver’s ability to regenerate is due in part to its unique structure. The liver is made up of tiny structures called lobules, which are composed of hepatocytes (liver cells) arranged in a hexagonal pattern around a central vein.
Each lobule has three distinct zones with specific functions.
Hepatocytes in zones 1 and 3 produce metabolic enzymes that are essential for the liver’s survival and maintaining a stable internal environment. In a recent study conducted in 2021, researchers discovered a signaling pathway that activates zone 2 cells to regenerate damaged tissue in other zones.
This compartmentalization allows the liver to efficiently target damaged areas for renewal. Even though all hepatocytes are the same type, their function can be altered based on their location within the lobule.
Stimulating cells growth
According to Dr. Kessler, the liver’s ability to recover from injury is reliant on specific growth factors. Among these crucial factors is the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its receptor Met, which serve as essential components in stimulating cell proliferation, migration, and the creation of new blood vessels in not only the liver but other organs as well. This pathway is instrumental in promoting tissue development, regeneration, and the minimization of scarring.
Supporting systems of the liver
The liver boasts an impressive restorative capacity, but it relies on an intricate network of support systems to achieve this feat. A key player in this process is the liver’s vast blood vessel network, which requires the formation of new vessels.
Growth factors, found within platelets that congregate in the liver after injury, facilitate this process. Fibrinogen, a protein that aids in blood clotting, signals platelets to gather, and its levels may serve as a predictor of regeneration success.
Additionally, the liver’s immune cells, including natural killer T cells, natural killer cells, and regulatory T cells, work to reduce inflammation and aid in tissue healing.
More than that, the extracellular matrix (ECM), a dynamic scaffolding around liver cells, undergoes constant remodeling, especially during injury repair.
The ECM structurally supports liver cells and is composed of water, proteins, and proteoglycans.
Partial liver resection
In certain medical situations such as tumor treatment, cancer therapy, or transplantation, doctors may perform a partial hepatectomy to remove a portion of the liver. The goal is for the remaining liver cells to regenerate and increase in size through cellular growth and enlargement.
In a living-donor transplant, a person with a diseased liver can receive a portion of a healthy liver from a donor. Following the procedure, both the donor and recipient’s livers can regenerate to their original size in just a matter of weeks.
Cell activation for tissue repair
When the liver is exposed to toxins, viruses, or immune attacks, it can become injured.
This triggers inflammation and activates immune cells to release cytokines and growth factors, which start the process of regeneration. In the area of the injury, liver cells called hepatocytes quickly divide to replace lost cells.
Additionally, the liver produces small epithelial cells that can differentiate and regenerate damaged tissue. In cases where there is severe damage and hepatocytes are not enough, hepatic progenitor cells are activated and differentiate to repair the liver.
You should check out even more info about the issue in order to learn more about the extraordinary capabilities of the liver.