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Liver Doctor Glossary

Liver Doctor Glossary
Liver Doctor Glossary contains a list of medical terms with the definitions for those terms listed below:

Amines = any one of a group of nitrogen containing organic compounds.

Amino Acids = a group of organic compounds identified by the presence of both an amino group (NH2) and a carboxyl group (COOH). They are the building blocks for protein and are essential to life. Although around 80 amino acids are found in nature, only 22 are needed for human metabolism. The ones that cannot be produced by the body, and must be supplied by food, are called essential amino acids. The essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, cysteine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. The non- essential amino acids (which the body can manufacture itself) are alanine, aspartic acid, arginine, citrulline, glutamic acid, lycine, hydroxyl glutamic acid, hydroxyproline, norleucine, praline and serine. Arginine can be essential in certain states or age groups because the body cannot make it fast enough to supply the demand.

Antioxidant = minerals, vitamins or other substances found in fruits and vegetables and supplements, such as vitamins E, C and selenium and beta-carotene, which help to scavenge free radicals, preventing our bodies from degenerating at a rapid pace.

Bacteria = micro-organisms that can be shaped as a sphere, a rod or a spiral. They grow in colonies, usually composed of the descendants of a single cell. All animals and humans carry bacteria on and in their bodies, and some have the potential to cause serious diseases. Many bacteria produce toxins. Bacteria are the principle agents of decay and putrefaction of organic substances.

Barbiturates = are the earliest known class of sedative-hypnotic agents and were once extremely popular drugs to abuse. Drugs from this chemical class are used for their central nervous system depressant properties, including sedation, facilitation of sleep, seizure control, general anesthesia, preanesthetic, anxiolytic and disinhibition.

Bile = a greenish to yellow colour fluid produced by the liver cells which flows out of the liver into the small intestine via the bile ducts. The bile can be stored in the gallbladder to be used to digest fat contained in a meal. Bile is needed to dissolve fats in the intestine so that they can be absorbed into the circulation.

Carcinogenic = capable of causing cancer.

Catalyse = speed up the rate of a chemical reaction.

Cirrhosis = scarred liver

Cholestatic = slow flow of bile or even worse, blocked flow of bile

Cholestatic liver disease = liver disease associated with slow or blocked flow of bile

Conjugation = means to ‘join together’.

Dioxin = one of the most toxic chemicals known. An EPA report confirmed that dioxin is a cancer hazard to people; that exposure to dioxin can also cause severe reproductive and developmental problems (at levels 100 times lower than those associated with its cancer causing effects); and that dioxin can cause immune system damage and interfere with regulatory hormones. Dioxin is a general term that describes a group of hundreds of chemicals that are highly persistent in the environment. Dioxin is formed by burning chlorine-based chemical compounds with hydrocarbons. The major source of dioxin in the environment (95%) comes from incinerators burning chlorinated wastes. Dioxin pollution is also affiliated with paper mills which use chlorine bleaching in their process and with the production of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) plastics.

Endocrine = a system in the body in which substances (hormones) are made and released (secreted) into the bloodstream.

Enzyme = any of various proteins, such as the liver enzyme ALT. An enzyme is made by living cells and is capable of producing certain chemical changes in organic substances by catalytic action. Enzymes are used to digest food in the gut and to breakdown toxins in the liver cells. Enzymes are complex proteins capable of inducing chemical changes in other substances without being changed themselves.

Extrahepatic obstruction = blockage of bile ducts outside the liver

Free radicals = are unstable molecules produced as a by product of the metabolization of oxygen. The problem with free radicals is that they are associated with a multitude of disease processes including heart disease, autoimmune conditions, cancer and aging.

Fungi = a species of plant-like organisms that includes yeasts and moulds. Fungi can grow as single cells, as in yeast, or as multicellular filamentous colonies, as in moulds and mushrooms. Many forms are pathogenic to animals, humans and plants.

Hepatitis = liver inflammation which can be caused by multiple and various factors

Hepatitis A, B, C = liver inflammation caused by hepatitis viruses A, B and C

Hepatitis (Acute) = sudden and short lived, often severe inflammation of the liver cells

Hepatitis (Chronic) = prolonged and sustained inflammation of the liver which may be mild, moderate or severe

Hepatitis (Chronic active) = more active prolonged inflammation of the liver cells from various and/or multiple causes

Hepatocellular disease = liver cell disease causing liver cell damage which can be caused by multiple and various factors

Hepatocyte = liver cell

Hyper-triglyceridemia = high triglyceride levels in the blood

Induction = to induce or increase

Intrahepatic obstruction = blockage of bile ducts inside the liver

Isoenzymes = one of several forms in which an enzyme may exist in various tissues. Although the isoenzymes are similar in catalytic qualities, they may be separated from each other by special chemical tests.

Liver enzyme induction = liver enzyme increase

Metabolite = any product of metabolism such as an intermediate or an end product that is excreted.

Mycotoxins = are toxic metabolites produced by naturally occurring fungi “myco” —-> fungus “toxin” —-> poison

NASH = non-alcoholic steatorrhoeic hepatosis = severe fatty liver

Neurotransmitters = substances such as norepinephrine, acetylcholine, serotonin and dopamine released from nerve cells.

Organophosphates (OPs) = are chemical substances originally produced by the reaction of alcohols and phosphoric acid. In the 1930s they were used as insecticides, but the German military developed these substances as neurotoxins in World War II. They function as cholinesterase inhibitors, thereby affecting neuromuscular transmission. Organophosphate insecticides, such as diazinon, disulfoton, azinphos-methyl, and fonofos, are used widely in agriculture and in household applications as pesticides.

Parasites = an organism that lives within, upon, or at the expense of another organism, known as the host, without contributing to survival of the host.


Proteins manufactured by the liver = albumin and globulin and clotting factors

Space occupying lesion = a lesion which occupies space in or near the liver = a mass in the liver or a mass near the liver – this could be a benign tumour, a cancer, an abscess, or cyst

Steatohepatitis = severe fatty liver disease causing liver inflammation

Steatosis = fatty changes

Substrate = the substance acted upon by an enzyme

Sulfonamides = are a family of antibiotics used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections. They are available in oral forms, to treat infections throughout the body, as well as in vaginal and ophthalmic (eye) preparations that are applied topically. Each drug within the family kills specific bacteria.

Triglycerides = a type of fat found in the blood stream and the liver. Triglyceride fat is made from dietary carbohydrates and alcohol.

Viruses = a minute organism dependent on nutrients inside the cell for its metabolic and reproductive needs. It differs from bacteria due to its composition and method of reproduction.

Xenobiotics = ammonia, metabolic waste, drugs, alcohol and chemicals. Includes enterotoxins (potentially toxic chemicals endogenously generated by gut bacteria), endobiotics (intermediate/end products of normal metabolism/enzymolysis etc) and exotoxins (ingested, inhaled and absorbed toxic chemicals).