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HomeDetoxification & ImmunityImmune SystemHealthy Liver and Immunity: How Does the Liver Affect Our Immune System?

Healthy Liver and Immunity: How Does the Liver Affect Our Immune System?

The liver is the largest solid organ in the body and has many unique immunological properties, including induction of immune tolerance. Thus, the liver has been proposed as ‘an immunological organ’. Although the primary functions of this organ are not traditionally considered to be immunological, the liver also performs many essential immune tasks. Thus weak liver function means a weak immune system.

Liver is constantly exposed to a wide variety of bacterial products, viruses, drugs, alcohol, environmental toxins, and food antigens. In addition, autoimmunity and cirrhosis also lead to impairment of the immune system with an inability to protect the host from infection. The liver is directly involved in the functioning of the immune system by removing toxins and microorganisms. In this way, a strong liver helps in increasing immunity in a natural way. 

Also Read: Pre-diabetes: What It Is, Risk Factors, and How You Can Prevent It

How does the liver relate to our immune system?

Liver is a key, frontline immune tissue. Ideally positioned to detect pathogens entering the body via the gut, the liver appears designed to detect, capture, and clear bacteria, viruses, and macromolecules. Containing the largest collection of phagocytic cells in the body, this organ is an important barrier between us and the outside world. Importantly, as portal blood also transports a large number of foreign but harmless molecules, the liver’s default immune status is anti-inflammatory or immunotolerant; however, under appropriate conditions, the liver is able to mount a rapid and robust immune response.

This balance between immunity and tolerance is essential to liver function. Excessive inflammation in the absence of infection leads to sterile liver injury, tissue damage, and remodeling; insufficient immunity allows for chronic infection and cancer. Dynamic interactions between the numerous populations of immune cells in the liver are key to maintaining this balance and overall tissue health.    

To effectively and quickly defend against potentially toxic agents without launching harmful immune responses, the liver relies on its strong innate immune system. This comprises the enrichment of innate immune cells (such as macrophages, natural killer, natural killer T, and γδ T cells) and removal of waste molecules, and immunologic elimination of microorganisms by liver endothelial cells and Kupffer cells.

Strong antioxidants support healthy liver through their effect on the regeneration of liver cells, by preventing free radicals from damaging liver cells via their antioxidant effect and maintaining healthy immune function via its immunomodulatory effect.  Six such most important antioxidants are Vitamin C, D & E, Selenium, Zinc, and Copper, when mixed in proper scientific research doses, show a strong immunomodulatory effect.  

References

  1. Kubes P, Craig J (2018). Immune Responses in the Liver. Review Annu Rev Immunol. 36:247-277.
  2. Bin Gao (2016). Basic liver immunology. Cell Mol Immunol. 13(3): 265–266.
  3. Albillos A, Lario M, Álvarez-Mon M (2014). Cirrhosis-associated immune dysfunction: Distinctive features and clinical relevance. J Hepatology.61: 1385-1396.

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