Difference Between Liver and Kidney

The difference between liver and kidney is due to the following properties:

  • First is the part of body function, to which they relate.
  • Second is the location of both the organs.
  • And, third is the number of these organs in a human body.

The liver is the organ, which is the part of our digestive system, and the kidney is the part of our excretory system. The liver and kidney location differs, as a former is located on the right portion of the abdominal cavity ( just below the diaphragm), and the latter is located on the posterior side of the abdominal cavity (just behind the peritoneum).

By considering the number, a human body has one liver and two kidneys. In this context, we will study the key differences between the liver and kidney, along with the comparison chart. You will also get to know the definition, anatomy and functions of both kidney and liver.

Content: Liver Vs Kidney

  1. Comparison Chart
  2. Definition
  3. Anatomy of Liver
  4. Anatomy of Kidney
  5. Functions of Liver
  6. Functions of Kidney
  7. Key Differences Between Liver and Kidney
  8. Conclusion

Comparison Chart

DefinitionIt is the large glandular organ that is involved in the body metabolismIt is the bean shaped organ that is involved the excretion of wastes from the body
LocationPresent in the upper right portion of abdominal cavity and just below the diaphragmPresent in the posterior side of the abdominal cavity, just behind the peritoneum
PeritoneumIt is attached to the peritoneumIt lie behind the peritoneum
Type of body functionIt is the part of digestive systemIt is the part of excretory system
NumberOne in numberExists as one pair, i.e. Two in number
StorageStores glycogen, fat, ions, vitamins etc.It does not perform the function of storage
Key functionMetabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, fats etc.Excretion of nitrogenous wastes like urea, ammonia etc.


Liver: It is the large, glandular and the second largest organ, which is the essential part of our digestive system that performs a central role in providing energy or metabolism to the body.


Kidney: It is small and a bean-shaped organ, which is the essential part of our excretory system that performs a central role in filtering waste nitrogenous products from our body through its functional unit called a nephron.


Anatomy of Liver

A liver comprises numerous cells called lobules that are considered as the functional unit of the liver. There are about 100,000 hexagonal lobules that form the structure of the liver. The tissues surrounding the liver are the connective tissues. There is a long central vein present in the middle that terminally joins to the hepatic vein or interlobular vein.

There are six hepatic arteries, portal veins and bile ducts which surrounds each lobule of the liver. Some capillary tube-like structures are also present in the liver’s structure that extends from the central vein to the hepatic portal vein and called sinusoids.

The hepatocytes and kupffer cells surround sinusoids. Hepatocytes cells constitute the majority of the liver portion and help in digestion, metabolism and storage, whereas kupffer cells capture the old or dead RBCs and break them down.

Anatomy of Kidney

The kidney is divided into four zones, which are as follows:
anatomy of kidney
Renal corpuscle: It is also called malpighian tubule. The blood enters into the renal corpuscle after it enters the nephron. It comprises of glomerulus and Bowman capsule. Glomerulus absorbs the blood’s protein through the renal corpuscle and passes the remaining fluid to the Bowman capsule. Bowman capsule collects the remaining fluid after the absorption of protein and passes it to the renal tubules.

Renal tubules: It consists of a series of tubules that originates from the Bowman capsule and ends at the collecting ducts. It comprises three major parts: the proximal convoluted tubule, Henle’s loop, and the distal convoluted loop. The proximal convoluted tubule participates in the water absorption and transfers sodium back into the blood. Henle’s loop helps in the absorption of potassium, sodium, chloride ions etc. into the blood. Distal convoluted loop helps in the absorption of sodium into the blood and take in potassium and acids.

Cortex: It is surrounded by a layer of fatty tissue called a renal capsule. It helps protect the internal structures of the kidney and composed of a glomerulus and convoluted tubules.

Renal medulla: It is the inner tissue of a kidney that is generally smooth and contains renal pyramids and a loop of Henle. Renal pyramids contain strings of nephrons that act as a functional unit of the kidney. The fluid is transferred by the renal pyramids to the kidneys, which later passes over by the nephron to the collecting ducts. Collecting ducts are the exit portions for the filtered fluid.

Functions of Liver

  • It purifies the blood from the digestive tract.
  • Detoxifies chemicals into harmless substances. For instance, detoxification of ammonia to urea.
  • A liver makes proteins for the blood clotting with the help of vitamin-K.
  • It stores glycogen as a carbohydrate source, which is utilized by a body when it needs energy. The liver breaks down the glycogen into glucose and releases it into the bloodstream.
  • The liver plays an important role in the digestion of fats through breakdown and adsorption by secreting bile (a digestive juice).
  • It also plays a crucial role in the metabolism of carbohydrate, fats, lipids etc.
  • The liver also functions as the storage organ, which stores glycogen, ions, vitamins etc.

Functions of Kidney

  • The kidney plays an important role in the excretion of wastes through their functional units called nephrons.
  • It also helps in the reabsorption of vital nutrients.
  • Regulates homeostasis or the balance of water, electrolytes, acid-base and blood pressure.
  • It is also involved in osmolality regulation.
  • Kidney secretes hormones, namely Calcitriol (increase the absorption of calcium) and erythropoietin (increase RBCs production).

Key Differences Between Liver and Kidney

  1. The liver is attached to the peritoneum, whereas kidneys lie behind the peritoneum.
  2. The liver is a part of the digestive system, whereas the kidney is a part of the excretory system.
  3. One pair of kidney and one liver is found in the human body.
  4. The liver helps in the metabolism of carbohydrate, proteins and fats, whereas the kidneys help in the excretion of nitrogenous wastes.
  5. Glycogen, ions, vitamins etc. are stored in the liver, while the kidney does not perform any storage functions.


Therefore, we can conclude that both the liver and kidney are the two essential parts of our body. Without the liver, our digestive system is incomplete, and without a kidney, our excretory system is incomplete. It is evident that in the absence of any organ or cell, the other parts of our body will not function properly. As our body is designed to perform multiple tasks, all the cells and organs perform distinct functions. Therefore, both the liver and kidney are the core of the digestive and the excretory system, respectively.

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