Michael Oertel, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pathology

Dr. Oertel is a member of the Division of Experimental Pathology.

Office Location:
Deptartment of Pathology
BST S-404
200 Lothrop St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Contact Information:
Office Telephone: 412-648-9727
Lab Telephone: 412-624-1309 or
Email Address: mio19@pitt.edu


  • Diploma - University of Leipzig, Germany, 1995
  • PhD - University of Leipzig, Germany, 2000

Research Interests

The only currently available treatment for end stage liver disease is liver transplantation. Since the number of patients on the liver transplant list far exceeds the number of donor organs available, alternative treatment methods, such as hepatic cell transplantation, are under intensive investigation. Therefore, the main goal of our studies is to repopulate the normal and injured/diseased liver by cell transplantation using various cell types (e.g., fetal liver stem/progenitor cells, enriched stem cell populations, mature hepatocytes, etc.).

Several years ago, we have discovered that fetal liver stem/progenitor cells can sufficiently replace hepatic mass in the near-normal rat liver. In addition, our studies suggest that activin A (a mediator of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis) in the host liver creates a host tissue microenvironment favoring replacement of hepatocytes by transplanted fetal liver stem/progenitor cells through cell competition. Therefore, a long-term objective of our studies is to study novel cell transplantation strategies and elucidate basic mechanisms, necessary for successful tissue replacement, as well as the tissue microenvironment conditions in the recipient liver that foster repopulation by transplanted cells.

Awards and Honors

  • 2000 - PhD, magna cum laude
  • 2008 - Fellow, 16th Annual Summer Training Course in Experimental Aging Research
  • 2008/10 - AFAR Research Grant

Selected Publications

View Dr. Oertel's previous publications on PubMed

Oertel M, Menthena A, Dabeva MD, Shafritz DA. Cell competition leads to high level of normal liver reconstitution by transplanted fetal liver stem/progenitor cells. Gastroenterology 2006; 130: 507-520.

Oertel, M. & Shafritz DA. (2008). Stem cells, cell transplantation and liver repopulation. Biochim Biophys Acta, 1782: 61-74.

Oertel M, Menthena A, Chen Y-Q, Teisner B, Harken-Jensen C, Shafritz DA. Purification of fetal liver stem/progenitor cells containing all the repopulating potential for the normal adult rat liver. Gastroenterology 2008; 134: 823-832. PMID: 18262526

Shafritz DA, Oertel M. Model systems and experimental conditions that lead to effective repopulation of the liver by transplanted cells. Int J Biochem Cell Biol 2011; 43: 198-213.

Menthena A, Koehler C, Sandhu JS, Yovchev M, Hurston E, Shafritz DA, Oertel M. Activin A, p15INK4b signaling, and cell competition promote stem/progenitor cell repopulation of livers in aging rats. Gastroenterology 2011; 140: 1009-1020.

Oertel M. Fetal liver cell transplantation as a potential alternative to whole liver transplantation? J Gastroenterology 2011; 46: 953-965.

Yovchev MI, Dabeva MD, Oertel M. Isolation, characterization and transplantation of adult liver progenitor cells. Methods Mol Biol 2013; 976: 37-51.

Yovchev MI, Xue Y, Shafritz DA, Locker J, Oertel M. Repopulation of the fibrotic/cirrhotic rat liver by transplanted hepatic stem/progenitor cells and mature hepatocytes. Hepatology 2014; 59: 284-295.

Nishikawa T, Bellance N, Damm A, Bing H, Zhu Z, Handa K, Yovchev MI, Sehgal V, Moss TJ, Oertel M, Ram P, Pipinos II, Soto-Gutierrez A, Fox IJ, Nagrath D. A switch in the source of ATP production and a loss in capacity to perform glycolysis are hallmarks of hepatocyte failure in advance liver disease. J Hepatol 2014; 60: 1203-1211.