Why is it that the liver can (to an extent) regenerate but other vital internal organs cannot?

If you have superpowers, what would you choose? Invisibility, speed, or regeneration? Marvel has all these kinds of superpowers in the characters of Invisible Man, Quicksilver, and of course the one of the latest addition, Deadpool.

We like Marvel heroes. It’s like we have escaped an hour or two from the realities of our chaotic like to the world where our favorite superheroes immediately serve justice, order, and peace. They got supernatural abilities to perform extraordinary and supernatural things. But don’t you know that you don’t need to be a superhero to have extraordinary powers? You have it inside you!

Some of your body parts can regenerate. But it’s not the same as of the lizard growing its limb or its tail. Regeneration is the ability to regrow a damaged or missing organ part from the remaining tissue. It’s pretty amazing how you grow as an adult from an infant. From about 2 feet to six feet tall. Your tissues, cells, muscles, and bones have changed a lot over time.

Adult humans can regenerate some organs in the body. Your skin, hair, and nails, continuously grow. Wounds don’t stay forever, but they heal naturally because your body regenerates the lost skin cells to restore that perfectly glowing and healthy skin. But in some instances, like in having a third-degree burn, or amputations the body part in question doesn’t regenerate completely.

If a part of the liver is lost due to an injury or disease, it can grow back to its original size, but not to its original shape. (click here for more details)

Aside from the external organs that can heal themselves, the liver is an internal organ that can also regenerate. When a person gets a liver transplant, it does not always involve removing the old liver and transplanting another new liver. Still, a portion of the donor’s liver is cut off and put into the receiver’s body, where it grows into a fully functional organ in about a year.

How we all wish that all other internal organs in our body can also regrow and heal back to its original state. However, it’s not the case. Only our liver has this ability not because it’s the most important organ, among others, but because of its composition.

One of the theories believed that the more complex an organ is, the more difficult it can regenerate. These complex organs are kidneys and the heart. They are composed of different sections that work together to carry out the overall function. On the other hand, the liver has cells that practically work as independent units carrying out the same function.

However, the liver does not undergo proper regeneration; instead, its existing cells simply divide to form new liver cells, which allows the liver to return the mass of the organ back to normal, but the shape doesn’t come back to its original form.

As mentioned earlier, the liver is made of various kinds of cells that function independently. Four basic cell-types comprise the liver: the hepatocyte, the stellate fat-storing cell, the Kupffer cell, and the liver endothelial cell. (click here for more details)

The ability to regenerate is mainly because of the hepatocyte cells, which start to multiply when the liver is injured or damaged. They function as stem cells that can develop into many different types of cells in the body that serve as a repair system for the body.

Our intestines also can regenerate; it does most of the time, even if we are healthy. It loses cells during digestion, and the stems immediately multiply to help the intestines functioning well.

Another theory also claims that the liver regenerates because of its simple structure since its cells don’t have many modifications, just like in animals’ cells. Therefore, regeneration is more natural, since less complex structures need to be multiplied. (click here for more details)

We just wish our organs, not just the liver, will have these specialized cells that will help our body heal itself when injured or grow another part when it’s amputated. Still, to be grateful for the fact that we regenerate cells, such as blood cells, liver cells, skin cells, etc. Certain studies point out that our genes are the same as the other animals on Earth that have enabled them to regenerate their body parts. We only need to figure out how to activate them. (click here for more details)