Wendy M. Mars, PhD
Associate Professor of Pathology

Dr. Mars
Dr. Mars is Director of the Cellular and Molecular Pathology Graduate Training Program and a member of the Division of Experimental Pathology.
Office Location:
Rm. S407, S-BST
200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
Contact Information:
Office Telephone: 412-648-9690
Fax: 412-648-1916
Email: wmars@pitt.edu


  • BS - Arizona State University, 1976
  • PhD - University of Texas, 1986

Research Expertise

The general focus of the laboratory is to utilize regenerating liver as a normal model for understanding how the plasminogen activator system contributes to the development of diseases such as fibrosis and cancer.

In the rat, liver regeneration is at least partially dependent upon a growth factor known as hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). HGF can be activated in vitro by the urokinase-type and tissue-type plasminogen activators (u-PA and t-PA); however, in vivo u-PA seems to be the most important for compensatory liver regeneration in rat. These proteins are part of a "system" which includes selected receptors (for example, the u-PA receptors, u-PAR and LRP), inhibitors (i.e., the type 1 plasminogen activator inhibitor or PAI-1), and substrates (i.e. plasminogen (Plg) and HGF). We have characterized this system in depth using a normal model of hepatic regrowth; however, all of the members of this "system" have also been implicated in wound healing, angiogenesis, and/or cancer biology in some way or another. Never the less, their roles in contributing to disease development remain unclear.

In order to further elucidate the role of this system in tissue regeneration, mice were obtained that have deletions in the genes encoding u-PA, t-PA, PAI-1, MET (the HGF receptor), and u-PAR (knockout mice), as well as mice that are "floxed" for the genes MET and LRP. These mice are being used to identify the roles of the various genes during regenerative and disease processes in the primary hepatic cell types (endothelia, hepatocytes, stellate cells, macrophages) by utilizing a combination of techniques. At present, the lab is currently focusing on two primary projects: 1) the interactions between HGF and t-PA during the development of fibrosis and 2) the interactive regulation between HGF and IL-6.

Selected Publications

View Dr. Mars' publications on PubMed

  1. Norris, C.A., He, M., Kang, L.-I., Ding, M. Q., Radder, J.E., Haynes, M.M., Yang, Y., Paranjpe, S., Bowen, W.C., Orr, A., Michalopoulos, G.K., Stolz, D. B. and Mars, W.M. Synthesis of IL-6 by hepatocytes as a frequent response to common hepatic stimuli. PLoS ONE 9 (4): e96065 (2014) PMID: 24763697 PMC3999098

  2. Bhave, V., Mars, W., Donthamsetty, S., Zhang, X., Tan, L., Luo, J., Bowen, W.C. Michalopoulos, G.K. Regulation of liver growth by Glypican 3, CD81, Hedgehog, and Hhex. Am J Path, 183, 153-159 (2013) PMID: 23665349, PMC3702736

  3. Donthamsetty, S., Mars, W.M., Orr, A., Wu, C., and Michalopoulos, G. Protection Against Fas-induced Fulminant Hepatic Failure in Liver Specific Integrin Linked Kinase Knockout Mice (ePUB, Comparative Hepatology, 10:11, 2011)

  4. Lin, C-W, Mars, W.M., Paranjpe, S., Donthamsetty, S., Bhave, V.S., Kang, L.-I, Orr, A., Bowen, W.C., Bell, A., and Michalopoulos, G.K. Hepatocyte Proliferation and Hepatomegaly Induced by Phenobarbital and TCPOBOP is Suppressed in Hepatocyte-Targeted Glypican 3 Transgenic Mice. Hepatology 54, 620-630 (2011) PMID: 21574168

  5. Donthamsetty, S., Bhave, V., Kliment, C., Bowen, W., Mars, W.M., Bell, A., Wu, C., Michalopoulos, G.K., Excessive Hepatomegaly of Mice with Hepatocyte-Targeted Elimination of Integrin Linked Kinase Following Treatment by 1,4-bis [2-(3,5-dichaloropyridyloxy)] benzene. Hepatology 53, 587-595 (2011). PMID: 21274879, PMCID: PMC3062106.

  6. Coudriet, G.M., He, J., Trucco, M., Mars, W.M. and Piganelli, J.D. Hepatocyte Growth Factor Modulates Interleukin-6 Production in Bone Marrow Derived Macrophages: Implications For Inflammatory Mediated Diseases. PLoS ONE 5 (11): e15384 (2010). PMID: 21072211, PMCID: PMC2970559.

  7. Hao, S., Shen, H., Hou, Y., Mars, W.M., and Liu, Y. tPA is a potent mitogen for renal interstitial fibroblasts: role of β1 integrin/focal adhesion kinase signaling. A. J. Path. 177, 1164-1175 (2010). PMID: 20639453, PMCID: PMC2928951.

  8. Lin, L., Bu, G., Mars, W.M., Reeves, W.B., Tanaka, S., and Hu, K. tPA promotes renal interstitial fibroblast proliferation through LDL receptor-related protein 1-mediated p90RSK and GSK3beta signaling. Am. J. Path. 177, 1687-1696 (2010). PMID: 20724593, PMCID: PMC2947266.

  9. Liu, B., Bell, A.W., Paranjpe, S., Bowen, W.C., Luo, J.-H., Mars, W.M., and Michalopoulos, G.K. Suppression of liver regeneration and hepatocyte proliferation in glypican-3 hepatocyte-targeted transgenic mice. Hepatology 52, 1060-1067 (2010). PMID: 20812357, PMCID: PMC2936713

  10. Dawes, J., Liu, B., Mars, W., Michalopoulos, G., and Khillan, J.S. Multiple ovarian transplants to rescue a transgenic line of mice. Lab Animal 39, 191-193 (2010). PMID: 20485359.

  11. Donthamsetty, S., Bowen, W., Mars, W., Bhave, V., Luo, J.-H., Wu, C., Hurd, J., Orr, A., Bell, A., and Michalopoulos, G. Liver Specific Ablation of Integrin Linked Kinase (ILK) in Mice Results in Enhanced and Prolonged Cell Proliferation and Hepatomegaly after Phenobarbital Administration. Toxicological Sciences, 113, 358-366 (2010). PMID: 19920070

  12. Bae, M.H., Bissonette. G.B., Mars, W.M., Michalopoulos, G.K., Achim, C., Depireux, D.A. and Powell, E.M. Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF) modulates GABAergic inhibition and seizure susceptibility. Experimental Neurology 221, 129-135 (2010). PMID: 19853606