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Anatomy Atlases: Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 1 - Cells Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 10 - Digestive System

Plate 10.215 Liver

Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Paul M. Heidger, Jr., Ph.D.
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed


Plate 10.215 Liver

Human, 10% formalin, H. & E., 162 x.


The liver is essential to life, and, although it is the largest gland in the body, only a fraction of its total mass is required. The liver can be considered both an exocrine gland, secreting bile via a system of bile ducts into the duodenum, and an endocrine gland, synthesizing and releasing a variety of organic compounds into the blood stream. The importance of the liver can be appreciated by considering the blood supply to the organ. The liver receives blood directly from the digestive tract, which is rich in absorbed carbohydrates, amino acids, salts, and vitamins; from the pancreas, containing the hormones insulin and glucagon; and from the spleen, breakdown products of red blood cell destruction. The liver metabolizes digestion products, synthesizes other substances for use or storage elsewhere, stores glycogen and fat, maintains blood glucose levels, synthesizes blood proteins, degrades or detoxifies harmful substances and eliminates them in the bile, and secretes bile, which plays an important role in the digestive process.

Liver cells: Polyhedral cells with a round central nucleus. Arranged in cords and plates radiating in a spoke-like manner from the central vein.

Central vein: Forms the axis of the hepatic lobule. Receives blood from the hepatic sinusoids and drains into intercalated (sublobular) veins.

Sinusoids: Form an extensive fenestrated system of vascular channels that radiate from the central vein. Lined with endothelial cells and Kupffer phagocytic cells. Receive blood from the interlobular branches of the portal vein and hepatic artery at the periphery of the lobule. Blood flows toward the center of the lobule and is drained by the central vein. Also see Plates 8, 37, 216, and 219.

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