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MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: The liver is the second-largest organ in the body. It consists of four lobes, comprised of hundreds of lobules. Each lobule, the basic structural element of the liver, metabolizes carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. Lobules process glucose, the sugar that is the main energy source for cells. Glucose from the digestive tract flows into the lobules where hepatocytes, the primary cell type in the liver, store excess glucose as glycogen, and distribute glucose to the body. Hepatocytes also secrete bile, which helps the body digest lipids. Kupffer cells reside in the liver and help to remove toxins and bacteria from the blood. Hepatocytes also produce blood-clotting factors to prevent hemorrhage. Other vital functions performed by the liver include protein synthesis, vitamin storage, and the breakdown of old red blood cells. Because the liver filters toxins, their accumulation can cause liver failure. Chronic liver failure, the most common form of liver failure, is most often caused by long-term alcohol abuse or slow-acting hepatitis B or C infection. Chronic liver failure causes damage through cirrhosis, or scarring, of the liver. As cells die over time, they are gradually replaced with scar tissue that forms nodules. The scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver, slowing the metabolism of nutrients and filtration of toxins, gradually diminishing liver function. Acute liver failure is less common than chronic liver failure. Common causes of acute liver failure are poisoning, such as an overdose of acetaminophen or other medications, or acute infection with hepatitis A or B, which rapidly kills hepatocytes. Cirrhosis is not reversible, so treatment focuses on cessation of alcohol consumption, prevention of disease progression, and treatment of complications. The only definitive treatment for chronic liver disease is a liver transplant. There are vaccines to prevent infection with hepatitis A and B, but not C. Interferon and other antiviral drugs, such as ribavirin, block the replication of viral hepatitis. When acute liver failure is caused by an overdose of acetaminophen, it is treated with N-acetylcysteine, commonly known as mucomyst. If administered shortly after an overdose, mucomyst helps the liver safely excrete acetaminophen metabolites. ♪ [music] ♪