David Stell, PhD, FRCS(Gen) and William J. Wall, MD, FRCS(C), Department of Surgery and Multi-Organ Transplant Program, London Health Sciences Centre, London, ON.
The process of aging does not produce changes in the liver that can be described as pathological. The major age-related alterations are a reduction in liver mass and a reduction in total blood flow, neither of which interferes with the liver's normal homeostatic functions. In spite of the liver's resilience, however, the aged liver is more vulnerable to injury from toxins, viruses and ischemia, and its capacity to regenerate is slowed. There also is a decline in liver enzymes with aging that affects metabolic clearance of drugs, a finding that has implications for drug dosing in the elderly.
Key words: liver, aging, function, metabolism, injury.