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Lecture 23 Notes.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Biological Sciences
Stephen Reid

Lecture 23 Notes- Key Functions of the liver Heme Recycling Within the macrophage, haemoglobin is broken down into globin molecules (which are further broken down into amino acids and released into the blood) and the heme group. The heme group is then converted into biliverdin and then reduced to bilirubin. Bilirubin is released from the macrophage and binds with plasma albumin in the blood which transports it to the liver. Within the small intestine, bilirubin is metabolized by gut bacteria to produce urobilinogen. Urobilinogen can remain in the gut and become oxidized by gut bacteria to produce stercobilin which is voided in the feces (and gives the brown colour to feces). Urobilinogen can also leave the gut and enter the kidney where it is converted to urobilin which is voided in the urine (and gives urine its amber colour). Cirrhosis The liver can be damaged over time when it is constantly exposed to toxic substances. An example of this is alcohol-induced liver damage. Over time, alcohol interferes with hepatocytes mitochondrial function leading to accumulation of lipids and the formation of large lipid droplets in the liver. This leads to a condition called a fatty liver. Constant damage to the liver by toxic substances such as alcohol or infection by pathogens such as the hepatitis C virus cause the formation of scar tissue and the gradual breakdown of healthy liver tissue. This condition is termed cirrhosis Metabolic Processing of Nutrients The liver is involved in the metabolic processing of nutrients. After we eat, the liver receives digested substances from the gut (via the hepatic portal vein) and can convert them into large form for storage. For example, glycogen is synthesised from glucose, amino acids can be converted to fatty acids (or proteins) and fatty a
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