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•  The liver removes toxins from the blood and detoxifies them

The liver acts on drugs and toxins that have entered the bloodstream 

  • Many of these toxic compounds are fat soluble, making them difficult for the body to excrete
  • These compounds are converted into less harmful and more soluble forms, which are then excreted from the body

The detoxification of compounds by the liver typically involves two sets of chemical pathways:

  1. Toxins are converted into less harmful chemicals by oxidation, reduction and hydrolysis reactions
    • These reactions are mediated by a group of enzymes known as the cytochrome P450 enzyme group
    • These conversions produce damaging free radicals, which are neutralised by antioxidants within the liver
  2. The converted chemical is then attached to another substance (e.g. cysteine) via a conjugation reaction
    • This renders the compound even less harmful and also functions to make it water soluble
    • The water soluble compounds can now be excreted from the body within urine by the kidneys

Detoxification by the Liver