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Liver » Liver Transplant

Let’s Talk Liver Regeneration- How Your Liver Repairs Itself

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Your liver can repair itself, in case you didn’t know that. When liver problems end up damaging the liver cells / hepatocytes, the liver produces new ones, disposing of the damaged ones. This regeneration ability has been the center of discussion, bewilderment, and appreciation for many years.

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Even now, when several studies have shed light on one or the other aspect of the process through which a human liver repairs itself, nobody has been able to explain the whole picture. 

The Extent of the Liver’s Ability to Rise from Death

Your liver can start and achieve full or efficient enough workable structure from as little as 25% of the original, healthy liver. Sure, this growth is labeled compensatory because while the size of the regenerated liver will be identical to the original one, its shape wouldn’t be.

The ability of a liver cell to proliferate seems to be non-terminal. Experiments that show how a liver achieves favorable and complete regeneration after as many as 12 partial hepatectomies performed on it in a row have established this fact.

Also, while this rebuilding is going on, the currently functional cells continue to perform their metabolic roles, supporting the healing process along the way.

Recognizing the Need for Regeneration

When liver feels the need to regenerate, all the kinds of cells present inside the liver i.e. hepatocytes, binary epithelial cells and endothelial cells proliferate. This realization is triggered by certain mitogenic factors which are present in the area around hepatocytes.

These factors include Epidermal growth factor (EGF) family, Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF),Tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α and lymphotoxin, Interleukin-6 (IL-6), Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), Wnt proteins and such others.

There are other factors as well, one of which is TGF-beta 1, that senses and shuts down the regenerative process.

During the Process of Repairing the Liver

The liver is not only the most metabolically complex organ in the human body but also one with a very complicated internal structure. Smaller units called lobules which are made up of liver cells make up the liver. These lobules are separated via portal fields which also happen to be the entryway of blood into a lobule. There are microvessels called sinusoids through which the blood traverses among the liver cells.

The process of regeneration begins with the portal field and extends inside, towards the center of the lobule. For a liver to regenerate itself, both the presence as well as the orientation of the cells matter. Newly generated hepatocytes must align themselves along the sinusoids for the proper structure to be achieved.

By Repairing Itself, the Liver Can Save You from Extremely Disastrous Conditions

This process is extremely helpful in medical situations where the patient has damaged a large part of his/her liver because of an accident. Or in cases where alcohol abuse, drugs, chronic diseases or infections have severely damaged the liver and left it only partially functional, and there is no donor liver available.

The transplant process is possible by using a part of a matching liver from a relative or friend. The chances are that both the donor and the patient will live, although they will need careful monitoring so as to suppress or deal with any complications or additional liver problems that might arise.

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