do we know the functions of the liver and gall bladder?
functions of the liver were identified by comparing the materials in the
blood before and after the blood enters the liver.
What scientists noticed was that the contents of the blood leaving the
liver were much different from when the blood entered.
Scientists also discovered that even between meals, when the
concentrations of carbohydrates, amino acids, and fats in the vessels entering the liver
were low, their concentrations in the blood that left the liver was always the same. Thus, it seems that the liver is a
nutrient storage organ that releases some of its stores as they are needed.
know that the liver is crucial for life. People die when the liver
is destroyed, which often occurs in people who drink alcohol (wine,
beer, whiskey) for a long time. There is a virus that also
destroys the liver ("infectious hepatitis") and that also
can cause death. Click
here for more information about alcohol.
also our Cells Are Us unit for information on alcohol effects.
We have learned
that the gall bladder's function of separating fat molecules from each
other is not crucial. Often a person's gall
bladder can become enlarged and inflamed, and the only treatment for this
is to remove the gall bladder by surgery. People who have their gall
bladders removed surgically seem to do just fine.
do we know what the pancreas does?
Similar to the process used to study
the liver, the functions of the pancreas were discovered by comparing
the contents of blood that enters the pancreas with that which leaves the pancreas.
||Diagram of the pancreas and its
relationships with the bile duct and with blood vessels. The
digestive juice duct empties into the small intestine.
found that the pancreas secretes two hormones into blood:
cells to absorb sugar from the blood, and
- glucagon -
triggers cells to secrete
sugar into the blood
reveals that two ducts connect the pancreas with the small intestine.
One of the ducts comes from the gall bladder and contains a green fluid called bile. Collecting
secretions from the other duct allowed scientists to discover that digestive
enzymes were present to break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into
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