JOHN BAVOSI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHN BAVOSI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Illustration of the structure of the liver. The liver regulates the levels of most of the main chemicals in the blood. Its structure consists of roughly hexagonal lobules (small lobes) of cells, of which part of a lobule is represented here. To maximise liver cell (hepatocyte) contact with the blood, branches of the hepatic vein (blue, centre left) ramify between the cells. The same is true of branches of the hepatic artery (red). Blood passes between plates of cells in a flow towards the centre of each lobule (at right). The blood is detoxified, plasma proteins are synthesized, and spent red blood cells are reabsorbed. The liver is a multi-function organ that also produces bile.
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