Hepatocytes are liver cells that are the main functional and structural elements of this organ, performing various functions such as processing and storing nutrients, detoxification, protein and glycogen synthesis, lipid metabolism, and bile production.

These cells play a key role in providing many vital functions of the body.

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Frequently Asked Questions about «hepatocytes»

Where are hepatocytes located? Hepatocytes are the main functional cells of the liver. They are located in the liver parenchyma, forming the main tissue of this organ. Liver lobules consist of radially arranged hepatic plates, between which run networks of capillaries known as sinusoids. Hepatocytes are arranged along these plates and perform various functions such as processing nutrients, synthesizing proteins, participating in metabolism, and detoxification. These cells provide important processes necessary for maintaining the body's homeostasis and meeting its metabolic needs.

What is the function of hepatocytes? Hepatocytes, being the primary cells of the liver, play a fundamental role in providing vital functions of the body. At the cellular level, these unique cells have the ability to perform many tasks, including metabolism, detoxification, and maintaining homeostasis. Hepatocytes participate in converting nutrients, such as carbohydrates, into glycogen for energy storage or back when needed. Hepatocytes are also responsible for protein synthesis, which plays an important role in providing structural components and enzymes of the body. Additionally, hepatocytes perform the function of detoxification by filtering the blood and removing toxins and excess metabolites. At the cellular level, they use various enzymes and metabolic pathways to convert toxic compounds into safer forms that can be excreted from the body. Furthermore, hepatocytes produce and secrete bile, a key fluid for digestion. At the cellular level, they actively synthesize bile acids, which effectively emulsify fats, facilitating their digestion in the intestine. Thus, hepatocytes are cells integrated into complex metabolic and functional networks, providing vital processes necessary for the normal functioning of the body.

How many hepatocytes are in the liver? The number of hepatocytes in the liver is subject to significant individual and physiological variations. However, it can be estimated that an adult human has approximately 50 billion to 100 billion hepatocytes in their liver. This number may vary depending on various factors such as age, gender, health, and overall body mass of the individual. The degree of liver density and hepatocyte activity significantly affect the overall functionality of the liver, including processing and metabolism, detoxification, protein synthesis, and storage of essential substances. Research in hepatology and cell biology aims to gain a deeper understanding of hepatocyte populations and their role in maintaining physiological homeostasis in the body.

What do hepatocytes produce? Hepatocytes produce various biologically active substances, including metabolites, proteins, hormones, and enzymes. They play a key role in metabolic and biochemical processes occurring in the body. Examples of the produced products include glucose, which regulates blood sugar levels, proteins such as albumin, necessary for transporting various molecules in the blood, and enzymes responsible for food processing and metabolism. Hepatocytes also participate in detoxification, converting toxic substances into safer metabolites. They synthesize and secrete bile acids, which are necessary for fat digestion. Additionally, hepatocytes produce certain hormones, such as insulin-like growth factor, which influences the growth and development of organs and tissues. Research on products produced by hepatocytes contributes to understanding their functions in maintaining metabolic balance and providing vital processes in the body.

What enzyme activates bile? The process of bile activation is largely regulated by an enzyme known as cholecystokinin (CCK). Cholecystokinin is produced by the enteroendocrine cells of the mucous membrane of the upper part of the small intestine (duodenum) in response to the arrival of food, especially rich in fats, into the intestine. CCK acts as a neurohormonal mediator, stimulating the contractile activity of the gallbladder and the secretion of bile into the duodenum. This process, known as bile secretion, is important for the effective emulsification and digestion of fats, as well as for providing optimal conditions for the activity of pancreatic enzymes. CCK is a key participant in the regulation of bile secretion and ensures the adaptation of the digestive system to the content and composition of the food entering the digestive tract.

What breaks down bile in the body? In the digestive process, bile plays an important role in emulsifying fats. Emulsification is the process of breaking down large fat droplets into smaller ones, forming an emulsion. This process facilitates the action of pancreatic lipases on fats, which contributes to their more efficient breakdown and absorption in the small intestine. Phospholipids and bile acids, which are components of bile, play a key role in the emulsification process. Bile acids form complexes with fats, creating structures called micelles, which reduce surface tension and allow lipases to more effectively break down fats into more absorbable components. This process is an important part of the digestive system, ensuring the adequate absorption of nutrients from the lipid fraction of food.


Hepatocytes, or liver cells, perform many important functions in the body. These functions make hepatocytes crucial for maintaining liver health and overall body function.

  1. Metabolism: Actively involved in processing metabolic substrates such as carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins, regulating the body's energy balance. They control blood glucose levels and ensure energy homeostasis.
  2. Detoxification: Play a crucial role in detoxifying the body from toxins and harmful substances. Effectively metabolize and detoxify various toxins and chemical compounds, providing protection against harmful agents.
  3. Protein synthesis: Synthesize many proteins necessary for normal body function. This includes blood proteins, enzymes, and other biologically active substances. Hepatocytes are key centers for protein synthesis, including plasma proteins, enzymes, and biologically active molecules necessary for normal physiological processes.
  4. Glycogen storage: Store glycogen, which is a form of energy storage. Glycogen can be quickly broken down into glucose when the body requires additional energy.
  5. Synthesis and secretion of bile: Participate in bile acid synthesis and bile formation, which plays a crucial role in the digestion and absorption of fats.
  6. Participation in the immune system: Play a role in regulating the immune system and can influence inflammatory processes in the body.


Hepatocytes, as the main cells of the liver, have a complex structural organization determined by their functional activity. Below are key aspects of hepatocyte structure:

  1. Nucleus: Each hepatocyte contains one nucleus, which is the central organelle responsible for controlling cellular activity and synthesizing biologically important molecules.
  2. Cytoplasm: Hepatocyte cytoplasm is rich in organelles such as mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, and lysosomes. These structures support various cellular processes, including metabolic pathways and secretion.
  3. Mitochondria: Hepatocytes have a high content of mitochondria, indicating their high energy consumption. Mitochondria participate in aerobic metabolism processes and provide cells with necessary energy.
  4. Sinusoids: Hepatocytes are arranged along sinusoids, which is a characteristic structural feature of the liver. Sinusoids ensure blood circulation in close connection with cells and facilitate metabolism and detoxification.
  5. Microvilli: The surface of hepatocytes is covered with microvilli - tiny protrusions that increase the surface area of the cells to enhance nutrient absorption.
  6. Capillary network: The capillary network, permeating liver lobules, ensures efficient metabolism and the transport of oxygen and nutrients to hepatocytes.

Understanding the structure of hepatocytes is essential for explaining their functional capabilities in the body and is important for a comprehensive understanding of liver biology.

Hepatocyte Renewal

Hepatocyte renewal is a process essential for maintaining liver health and functionality. In this article, we will examine key aspects of hepatocyte renewal, understanding which is crucial for maintaining optimal functioning of this vital organ.

Role of Cell Division in Renewal

Hepatocytes are primarily renewed through cell division, particularly mitosis. The mechanism of this process allows hepatocytes to efficiently reproduce, ensuring stability of genetic information and preservation of functionality.

Influence of Stem Cells

The interaction of stem cells in the liver plays a key role in renewal. Specialized stem cells are capable of differentiation and replacing damaged or lost hepatocytes, contributing to tissue regeneration.

Mitotic Activity of Hepatocytes

Hepatocytes demonstrate high mitotic activity, especially in response to injury or stress. This enables the liver to rapidly regenerate damaged areas and maintain its functionality.

Synchronization of Cell Cycle

Hepatocyte renewal is closely linked to the synchronization of the cell cycle, ensuring harmonious cell division and maintaining homeostasis in the organ.

Regulation of Gene Expression

The processes of hepatocyte renewal are accompanied by changes in gene expression aimed at maintaining cell functionality and adapting to changing conditions.

Understanding the mechanisms of hepatocyte renewal is an important step in managing liver health. This physiological process demonstrates the remarkable ability of the body to self-renew, underscoring the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventive measures.

Hepatocyte Diseases

Hepatocytes, being key cells of the liver, can be subject to various diseases that affect their functionality and the overall condition of the liver. Below are some of the most common hepatocyte diseases, their symptoms, and possible treatment methods.

1. Hepatitis

  • Symptoms: Fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, loss of appetite.
  • Causes: Pathogens (hepatitis A, B, C), alcohol, medications.
  • Treatment: Antiviral drugs, anti-inflammatory medications, lifestyle changes.

Hepatitis — inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by pathogens. Symptoms may include fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. Treatment depends on the type of hepatitis and may include antiviral drugs and lifestyle changes.

2. Liver cirrhosis

  • Symptoms: Enlarged abdomen, jaundice, memory impairment.
  • Causes: Chronic hepatitis, alcohol, fatty liver disease.
  • Treatment: Liver transplantation, treatment of the underlying condition, supportive therapy.

Liver cirrhosis — a chronic condition in which healthy liver tissues are replaced by fibrous tissues. Symptoms may include abdominal enlargement, jaundice, and memory impairment. Treatment may involve liver transplantation and supportive therapy.

3. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

  • Symptoms: Fatigue, pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen.
  • Causes: Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol levels.
  • Treatment: Weight loss, dietary changes, physical activity.

NAFLD — accumulation of fat in the liver, not associated with alcohol consumption. Symptoms may include fatigue and pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. Treatment often involves lifestyle changes such as weight loss, diet, and physical activity.

4. Hemochromatosis

  • Symptoms: Fatigue, joint pain, darkening of the skin.
  • Causes: Accumulation of excess iron in the body.
  • Treatment: Phlebotomy, iron chelators.

Hemochromatosis — a genetic disorder characterized by excessive accumulation of iron in the body. Symptoms include fatigue, joint pain, and darkening of the skin. Treatment may include phlebotomy (artificial blood removal) and iron chelators.

5. Glycogen storage disease (Glycogenosis)

  • Symptoms: Hypoglycemia, growth delay, muscle weakness.
  • Causes: Disruption of glycogen metabolism in cells.
  • Treatment: Dietary control, treatment with hypoglycemic agents.

Glycogen storage disease (Glycogenosis) — a group of rare genetic disorders of glycogen metabolism. Symptoms include hypoglycemia, growth delay, and muscle weakness. Treatment usually involves dietary control and, in some cases, the use of hypoglycemic agents.

It is important to remember that accurate diagnosis and treatment of hepatocyte diseases require consultation with a doctor. Early detection and adequate treatment can contribute to maintaining liver health and overall well-being.

Liver Regeneration

The liver is an organ capable of regeneration and self-repair. The biological mechanism of regeneration involves the activation of hepatocytes, the main cells of the liver, under the influence of growth factors.

Hepatocytes demonstrate an amazing ability for mitotic division, replacing damaged cells and ensuring rapid restoration of organ functions.

1. Mechanism of Liver Regeneration

Liver regeneration is the ability of the organ to repair damaged tissues and replace lost cells. This process is typically activated in response to injuries, surgical interventions, or certain diseases.

Liver regeneration operates at the level of hepatocytes, the main cells of the liver. Under the influence of growth factors and cytokines, cell division is activated, allowing hepatocytes to replace damaged cells.

2. Regenerative Potential of Hepatocytes

Hepatocytes, the main cells of the liver, play a key role in regeneration. They can divide and replace damaged cells, ensuring the rapid restoration of organ function.

Hepatocytes have the ability to undergo mitotic division. In response to injuries, they begin to proliferate and, under the influence of growth factors, replace damaged areas of the liver.

3. Methods to Support Regeneration

  • Healthy Diet: A varied diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals helps maintain liver health.
  • Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol can negatively affect hepatocytes and their ability to divide, so it is recommended to avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Physical Activity: Regular physical activity promotes better blood circulation, supports organ health, and has a positive impact on the entire body.
  • Avoidance of Toxins: Avoid contact with potentially harmful substances. This is an important strategy to support the functionality and structure of the liver in optimal condition.

4. Specialized Supplements

In the context of modern health principles, it is increasingly important to recognize the need to pay attention to liver health.

Dietary supplements are an important tool for maintaining liver health. Their mechanisms of action at the biochemical level are aimed at optimizing liver function and protecting it from various factors.

Biologically active supplements affect cellular processes, providing antioxidant protection, participating in detoxification metabolism, and reducing inflammatory reactions. The use of these supplements contributes to improving the condition of the liver, enhancing its more efficient functioning, and strengthening protection against various influences capable of disrupting its homeostasis.

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