The liver undergoes substantial changes in structure and function in old age. There are age-related changes in liver mass, blood flow, and hepatocyte and sinusoidal cell morphology. These changes are associated with a significant impairment of many hepatic metabolic and detoxification activities, with implications for systemic aging and age-related disease. For example, the age-related impairment of the hepatic metabolism of lipoproteins predisposes to cardiovascular disease. The age-related decline in the hepatic clearance of most medications causes an increased risk of adverse drug reactions. Many of the beneficial effects of caloric restriction and caloric restriction mimetics such as resveratrol are mediated by their effects on the liver. Increasingly, the liver is seen as having a key role in aging.
Key words: liver, aging, hepatocyte, liver sinusoid, drug metabolism.