Ana G Cristancho, MD, PhD

faculty photo
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Department: Neurology
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
Colket Translational Research Building, 6020
3501 Civic Center Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19104
BS (Biology and Philosophy)
University of Miami, 2004.
PhD (Cell and Molecular Biology)
University of Pennsylvania, 2011.
University of Pennsylvania, 2013.
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Description of Research Expertise

Research Interests:
The Cristancho lab is interested in understanding the epigenetic mechanisms driving long-term neurodevelopmental disabilities from acquired prenatal and perinatal brain injury. We posit that even in the setting of little cell death, epigenome disruption during critical stages of early brain development persistently alters brain maturation and function.

prenatal brain injury, epigenetics, neurodevelopmental disorders, multi-omics, behavior, translational, hypoxia

Research Details:
Prenatal and perinatal brain injuries, including prenatal hypoxia, are among the most common causes of neurodevelopmental disabilities worldwide, ranging from developmental delays, autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and learning disabilities. However, despite their prevalence, we have almost no directed therapies for these disorders. Part of the challenge is that these injuries are variable in what causes them, how long the insult lasts, and lead to a wide variety of disabilities in affected children.

To study these questions, we use a combination of animal and cell culture models and take advantage of multi-omic approaches to garner a multi-dimensional understanding of these complex brain injuries on different cell types. We then use physiologic, behavioral, and imaging outputs to link changes in the epigenetic signature to functional outcomes to determine which changes to the epigenome are important for modulating the severity of neurodevelopmental deficits after developmental brain injury.

We are currently focusing on a model of transient prenatal hypoxia, where we found there is little early cell death, but there are persistent deficits in adult animals (decreased seizure threshold and other behavior anomalies). Using single nucleus RNA-seq and ATAC-seq, we are currently unraveling the cell type-specific dynamics that drive these persistent functional deficits long after the insult has occurred.

Rotation Projects:
Please contact us for a discussion of possible rotation projects.

Selected Publications

Cristancho AG, Joseph D, Cassidy M, Chauhan P, Gadra E, Gadra EC, Zarrinnegar D, Rodriguez B, Marsh ED: Early disruption of epigenetic organization after prenatal hypoxia predicts persistent functional deficits in glutamatergic neurons. Hershey Developmental Brain Injury Symposium June 2024.

Cristancho, AG: Current State and Future Therapies for HIE. Premie Chats (Podcast) May 2024.

Appalaneni U, Cristancho A: Yield of Genetic Testing in Posterior Fossa Anomalies. Neurology April 2024.

Burrill N, Khalek N, Cristancho AG, Coleman B, Murrell J, Moldenhauer JS: Fetus with multiple congenital anomaly syndrome caused by novel variant in ATP1A2. Prenatal Diagnosis March 2024.

Cristancho AG, Joseph D, Cassidy M, Chauhan P, Ethan Gadra, Gadra EC, Zarrinnegar D, Rodriguez B, Marsh ED: Leveraging single-nucleus multi-omics to predict persistent deficits from prenatal hypoxic brain injury in glutamatergic neurons. International Newborn Brain Conference February 2024.

Guez-Barber D, Eisch AJ, Cristancho AG. : Developmental brain injury and social determinants of health: opportunities to combine preclinical models for mechanistic insights into recovery. Developmental Neuroscience April 2023 Notes: doi: 10.1159/000530745.

Means M, Whitehead MT, Borst AJ: Neonatal Medullary Venous Thrombosis and Hemorrhage from Protein C Deficiency. Neuropediatrics March 2023.

Duemler A, Cristancho A, Cohen A, Valverde K: Its time to listen to the families: A disease concept model for Gould syndrome. Genetics in Medicine Open 2023.

Anton L*, Cristancho AG*, Ferguson B, Joseph A, Ravel J, Elovitz MA: Vaginal microbes alter epithelial transcriptome and induce epigenomic modifications providing insight into mechanisms for susceptibility to adverse reproductive outcomes. Preprint (Research Square) 2023.

Schindewolf, E., Cristancho, A., Didier, R., Moldenhauer, J, Gebb, J. : Novel prenatal phenotype of biallelic mutations in SLC5A6: Expanding the phenotypic spectrum. Genetics in Medicine Open 2023.

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Last updated: 07/08/2024
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