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  • Writer's picture Bowie Matteson

Neighborhood Fact Check: Liver and Spleen

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

In the last post, we got a chance to interview the liver and the spleen, the 2 organs closest to the pancreas, to see if they could shed light on how the beta cells were lost.

Let's run a quick fact check on each of their stories to confirm the conditions.


The liver is a large organ, weighing about 3 pounds, and holds about 13% of the body's blood supply at any one time. Its focus is largely filtration and metabolizing contents of the blood. All the blood that leaves the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The blood is processed and any chemicals, drugs or nutrients are broken down.

The liver plays a big part in what constitutes the blood. It regulates blood levels of amino acids, stores glucose as glycogen, it clears drugs and other poisonous substances, as well as regulates blood clotting. As you can remember from the interview, the liver also is involved in the processing of hemoglobin for use of its iron content. The liver is the body's main storage space for iron (stored as ferritin or hemosiderin).

The by-products of the liver's metabolism are excreted into bile which exit via the intestines (poop), or into the blood which exits via the kidneys (urine).

So that checks out. The liver does a good bit of filtering, handles a lot of blood and is responsible for recycling iron.


The spleen plays a similar protective role to the liver. It houses white blood cells that fight germs in the blood. It also manipulates the level of different blood components (red, white or platelet) and aids in filtering the blood of old and/or damaged red bloods cells.

So it plays a role in your immune system as a fighter of invading germs, but also as a filter to regulate the fluidity of your blood.


Let's play this game like real detectives. We've got our whiteboard, names scribbled and crossed off. Pictures of suspects with yarn and thumbtacks tying alibis and locations together.

As the lead investigator, I've got my eyes on the liver and the spleen. Maybe not as suspects, but as having a part in the story.

What about what these organs do makes them look guilty? Filtering blood, roles in the immune system...

It would first help to decide what it was that caused diabetes in the first place.

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