According to a new study, the human liver remains young even while the remainder of our bodies turns old, and on average, the organ is less than three years old, no matter how old of a person it’s attached to.
Using mathematical modeling and a technique named retrospective radiocarbon birth dating dates, human cells were established on levels of a carbon isotope that speared in the atmosphere following mid-20th century nuclear testing. Researchers have established that liver renewal is unchanged as we grow old.
That regeneration is key to the liver’s primary purpose: cleaning toxic substances out of the body. This waste disposal takes its toll on the organ, but it has an unusual ability to regenerate itself after being wounded.
“No matter if you are 20 or 84, your liver stays just under three years old,” announces molecular biologist Olaf Bergmann from the Dresden University of Technology in Germany.
Nonetheless, not all liver cells are the same, considering how quickly they rebuild. The researchers establish that a small portion can live to be up to 10 years old, and this appears to be related to how many sets of chromosomes they’re holding up.
Largely, the cells in our body, aside from our sex cells, haul two copies of our whole genome. Liver cells are an unusual exception, with a percentage of cells generating even more samples of our entire DNA library on top.