Never crossed your mind – do you know how old your liver is?

The liver breaks down alcohol and it is necessary for the body’s metabolism. Imago / Gladys Chai from Lag

Water expert Carsten Reinke of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research sees the cause in the climate: “For 25 years we have seen a decrease in water consumption, but now you can see the effect of the climate: people bathe a lot in the summer, then there are many swimming pools and watering gardens.” This is the reason for the sharp increase in water consumption, especially in Brandenburg. Many people live there on garden plots.

Water expert Carsten Reinke of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research sees the cause in the climate: “For 25 years we have seen a decrease in water consumption, but now you can see the effect of the climate: people bathe a lot in the summer, then there are many swimming pools and watering gardens.” This is the reason for the sharp increase in water consumption, especially in Brandenburg. Many people live there on garden plots.

The human body has a surprise or two in store. Its ability to regenerate is amazing. But our liver takes the cake.

The organ in the upper abdomen to the right below the ribs ensures that yesterday’s party does not have many after-effects. The liver converts nutrients from food and absorbs toxins such as alcohol and converts them into non-toxic substances or causes them to be eliminated.

A study on liver cells, published in the journal Cell Systems, has now found amazing things. Regardless of our age, liver cells are on average no more than three years old. The liver regenerates itself surprisingly quickly.

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This was investigated using a specific radiocarbon dating method that reveals the age of the tissue down to the individual cell. Researchers at TU Dresden also found special cells with an unusual amount of DNA: they carry four, eight or more sets of chromosomes.

Liver cells can regenerate well

Due to its great importance in our metabolism and its frequent contact with toxins, liver tissue can regenerate well. In the event of injuries or tissue damage, new liver cells are produced – this has long been known.

However, it is not clear how long hepatocytes live under normal conditions and how much the ability to regenerate decreases with age.

Also read: How to beat the summer heat: drink enough and sometimes “drink” water >>

The liver stays young throughout our lives, Paula Henke of the Technical University of Dresden and her colleagues have discovered. For their study, they took liver samples from 33 people who died between the ages of 20 and 84 and isolated DNA from the cell nuclei. Then they subjected the molecules of genetic material to radiocarbon dating. This method is known mainly from archaeology – fossilized tree trunks, dinosaur bones and the like have been dated based on the ratio of the unstable carbon isotope C14. “By comparing the values ​​with the radiocarbon in the atmosphere, we can retrospectively determine the age of the cells,” said Henke’s colleague, Olaf Bergmann.

Radiocarbon dating of single cells

The result: the liver cells themselves rapidly regenerate and are exchanged over and over again throughout life. “On average, your liver stays for less than three years — regardless of whether you’re 20 or 84,” Bergman says. Aging has little effect on how quickly liver cells regenerate.

Why does the liver get sick more often in old age?

However, this raises the question of why liver diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer continue to occur and why they are more common in the elderly. So far this is still not clear. However, Henk and colleagues suspect that this may be related to the DNA-rich cells, which increase markedly with age in the liver. “Polyploid cells are often associated with chromosomal errors and genetic instability,” the team explains.

As these cells increase with age, this may increase the liver’s susceptibility to disease. On the other hand, these cells also divide less in old age, which in turn reduces the risk of copying errors and mutations. More research needs to be done on the causes of age-related liver disease, reports scinexx.de

Using the same method, Dresden researchers previously discovered that new neurons are still forming in our adult brain. So you will never be as old as you feel.

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