The liver can remove hormones, drugs, and other biologically active molecules from the blood by (1) excretion of these compounds in the bile as previously described; (2) phagocytosis by the Kupffer cells that line the sinusoids; and (3) chemical alteration of these molecules within the hepatocytes.
Ammonia, for example, is a very toxic molecule produced by deamination of amino acids in the liver and by the action of bacteria in the intestine. Since the ammonia concentration of portal vein blood is four to fifty times greater than that of blood in the hepatic vein, it is clear that the ammonia is removed by the liver. The liver has the enzymes needed to convert ammonia into less toxic urea molecules, which are secreted by the liver into the blood and
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