Liver: The main organ | Veterinaria Digital

Liver: The main organ

08/09/2016 Poultry pronutrients Nutrition Liver Swine

Liver: The main organ

Pig’s liver is composed of a total of four lobes: two lateral and two central lobes. It has a great amount of interlobular tissue, which gives it a mottled appearance. It also has an umbilical fissure between the central lobes.

Its importance in pig production is undeniable, since protein production depends on it, which means that meat production does. The liver also has other functions essential for the organism:

(1) Detoxification: Multiple toxics are metabolised by the liver before being eliminated; not only the ones coming from the outside, such as pathogenic bacteria or drugs, but also the ones from the organism, such as blood cells or ammonia.

(2) Synthesis: Lipid, carbohydrate and protein metabolism takes place in the liver as well as the production of coagulation factors and the production and secretion of bile, which is necessary for an adequate nutrients digestion.

(3) Storage: fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K and E) and glycogen (energy) are stored in the liver.



Nowadays, hepatotoxic substances are one of the main risks for pig production and nutrition in matters of food safety due to their direct effects on the production and the indirect ones, such as the presence of toxics in animal tissues. Among these substances, some of major importance are mycotoxins, especially aflatoxin.



Main producers

Chemical structure


B1, B2, G1, G2

Aspergillus sp.

Cumarinic group

Its toxic effects depend on the amount ingested, the contact’s duration, the interactions with other toxic substances and the animal’s genetic sensitivity. The main consequence of a serious poisoning is hepatic necrosis, which causes a sharp increase of the transaminases.


Toxic effect of aflatoxin in pigs

0.1   - 0.4 ppm

Stunted growth and poor feed conversion index

0.4 - 0.8 ppm

Hepatic and splenic damage



The use of plant extracts is a good solution to restore hepatocytes’ physiology. These extracts have active substances with hepatoregenerative activity, capable of resettling hepatic cells’ functioning. The interest in these substances steadily increases, since they not only prevent hepatic lesions, but heal them.

Some plants whose hepatoregenerative activity has been studied are Sida cordifolia, Cynara scolymus and Coriandrum sativum, among others. These species contain some active molecules, called pronutrients, which stimulate hepatocyte regeneration and, therefore, they reactivate the physiologic function of the liver. Examples of these are phenolic compounds such as flavonoids, cumarins, cinamic acid and cafeic acid.

Image 1. Cinamic acid (left), cafeic acid (right).

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