What is the liver?

Liver Health

Learn more about the second largest organ in the body


Emily Condon
BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences

Share this article

What is the liver?

The liver is the second largest organ in the body after the skin and through its various roles, supports nearly every other organ in the body. Within the abdominal cavity, the liver can be found in the upper right-hand portion, below the diaphragm and above the stomach, intestines and the right kidney. 

What is the role of the liver in the body? 

The liver is composed of 2 main lobes, the right lobe and the left lobe as well as 2 smaller lobes - the caudate and the quadrate lobe. Each lobe contains hepatocytes which are responsible for secreting bile. Bile is a yellow-green fluid made up of water, bile salts, and several other substances including bilirubin, which is a breakdown product of the red blood cells. Bile aids the digestion of fat in the body and is stored and concentrated in the gallbladder until it is expelled when needed.

As well as aiding digestion, the liver has over 500 different roles in the body, including maintaining normal blood sugar concentration, removing toxins, storing essential vitamins and regulating the production of many important hormones. 

Alcohol, viruses, toxins and a poor diet can all damage the liver. Because the liver is responsible for many crucial functions in the body, if it is damaged in any way then the loss of those functions can cause a range of problems including the development of liver disease. 

Learn more about liver disease here

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. Read more