The liver is an important organ in vertebrates that plays an essential role in metabolism. It is also responsible for storing and redistributing nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins in the body. Additionally, the liver releases bile salts which are critical for digesting food and eliminating toxic metabolites from the body.
Cells of Liver
The liver comprises four major types of cells— hepatocytes, stellate, Kupffer, and sinusoidal endothelial cells. The hepatocytes are large polyhedral-shaped epithelial cells that store glycogen, vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron. In contrast, the stellate cells, typically present in the space of Disse, have a star-like shape and store vitamin A. The sinusoidal endothelial cells are responsible for forming the walls of blood vessels that transport the blood through the liver. The Kupffer cells are specialized macrophages attached to the sinusoidal endothelial cells. They are involved in killing bacteria and removing aged erythrocytes.
Cytokines and Growth Factors Involved in Liver Regeneration
Liver regeneration is a highly organized process that involves three phases; the priming, proliferative, and termination phase. In response to an injury, the Kupffer and stellate cells actively release cytokines and growth factors. The cytokines include interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), which prime the hepatocytes to become receptive to growth factors. The growth factors include epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factors (TGF), and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). These growth factors trigger the hepatocytes to pass the cell cycle checkpoint and proliferate. Other factors such as insulin from the pancreas, norepinephrine from the adrenal gland, and triiodothyronine from the thyroid gland also facilitate the hepatocytes to pass the G0/G1 cell cycle checkpoint. These hepatocytes then enter the S phase, proliferate, and regenerate the liver.
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