Liver, Gallbladder and Pancreas

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Gastrointestinal system II | Main Anatomy Index | Lymphatics system

Last updated 30 March 2006

This page was contributed by David Boshell.

Liver, Gallbladder, and Pancreas

The Liver


Blood supply to the liver

  1. 75% of the liver's blood comes from the hepatic portal vein, carrying deoxygenated blood from the small intestine, pancreas and spleen. This blood contains absorbed nutrients and toxins from the intestine, blood products from the spleen, and endocrine secretions of the pancreas.
  2. 25% comes from the hepatic artery, a branch of the celiac trunk, carrying oxygenated blood.
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Structural organisation of the liver

  1. Hepatocytes, organised as plates or lamellae
  2. Connective tissue stroma
  3. Vessels, nerves, lymphatics and bile ducts
  4. Sinusoidal capillaries (sinusoids) between plates of hepatocytes


Liver lobules


Classic Lobules of the Liver


Portal Lobules of the Liver


The Liver Acinus

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Major functions of Hepatocytes

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Portal Canals


Portal Triads

  1. Branches of the portal vein (the largest structure);
  2. Branches of the hepatic artery;
  3. Bile ductules
  4. Lymphatic vessels (small)
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Blood vessels of the parenchyma




Perisinusoidal Space (Space of Disse)

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The Biliary Tree

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The Gallbladder


Mucosa of the Gallbladder


Muscularis Externa, Adventitia and Serosa of the Gallbladder

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The Pancreas

  1. A large, serous, exocrine component, continuous throughout the organ, that synthesises and secretes digestive enzyme precursors.
  2. A small, endocrine component, dispersed throughout the organ as islets of Langerhans, that mainly synthesises insulin and glucagon and secretes them into the blood.


Exocrine Pancreas


Duct system


Hormonal control of exocrine secretion

  1. Secretin, which stimulates the duct cells to secrete large volumes of fluid with little or no enzyme content.
  2. CCK, which causes acinar cells to secrete their proenzymes.
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Endocrine Pancreas

  1. A Cells, about 15-20% of the islet population, found in the periphery. They stain red with the Mallory-Azan method, and secrete glucagon from densely packed cytoplasmic granules.
  2. B Cells, about 70% of the islet population, located in the central portion. They stain brownish-orange with the Mallory-Azan method, and secrete insulin from large secretory granules.
  3. D Cells, about 5-10% of the islet population, located in the periphery. They stain blue with the Mallory-Azan method, and secrete somatostatin from the largest secretory granules in the islet.


Functions of Hormones


Blood Supply of the Pancreas

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Michael Tam (c) 1999