The immune system is an integral part of the liver as an organ. In addition to the classical roles of hepatocytes and biliary cells in metabolism and digestion, the presence of a broad range of immune cells in the liver contributes to its basic functions by sensing and reacting to external and endogenous danger signals. Several unique features characterize immune responses in the liver including the composition of immune cell types, the local tissue environment that allows close interaction between parenchymal cells and immune cells, and the gut-derived signals arriving from the portal blood. Integration of these components is pivotal for immunological homeostasis in the liver and orchestration of effective immune responses for the protection of the host.
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