The liver is arguably one of the most important organs in your body, and is the body's workhorse for many metabolic functions. Dr. Oz talks to pathologist Dr. Neil Theise about this amazing organ and some of its most fascinating regenerative properties. Dr. Oz says Dr. Theise's pioneering research changed the scientific community's understanding of liver microanatomy, which in turn has changed the way we think about stem cells and the liver.
As one of the world's leading researchers of stem cell activity, Dr. Theise's work has shown that adult stem cells from one part of the body can enable organs and tissue to regenerate in other parts, including the liver. Dr. Theise says scientists hope to harness the potential of this finding into new avenues for therapeutics.
Cells that make up the bulk of the liver have stem cell-like properties, Dr. Theise says, in that they can divide almost endlessly. For a long period of time, scientists didn't think the liver had stem cells because the major liver cells could be seen dividing themselves—even if half of the organ is removed from the body, it regenerates with remarkable speed.
"Probably every organ has stem cells, if not multiple levels of stem cells, and the liver has very active compartments of cells that accomplish the regeneration depending on what kind of injury," says Dr. Theise.