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Catherine Christian-Hinman

Associate Professor of Molecular & Integrative Physiology, MIP Director of Graduate Studies

Research Interests

Research Topics

Endocrinology, Ion Channels, Neurobiology, Synaptic Transmission

Disease Research Interests

Neurological and Behavioral Disorders, Reproductive Diseases, Infertility, and Menopause

Research Description

Cellular, synaptic, and circuit neurophysiology in neuroendocrinology and epilepsy

My laboratory explores research questions at the intersection of neuroscience, physiology, and endocrinology.  We are particularly interested in the neural mechanisms linking epilepsy and comorbid reproductive endocrine disorders. Both women and men with temporal lobe epilepsy, the most common form of epilepsy seen in adults, show higher rates of reproductive endocrine disorders in comparison with the general population. Importantly, reproductive endocrine problems can reciprocally impact the severity of epilepsy seen and influence the choice and efficacy of anti-seizure treatments. We aim to understand how temporal lobe seizures impact the hypothalamic control of reproduction, and how altered hypothalamic function reciprocally affects seizure activity and epilepsy severity.

Another area of research in the lab examines the roles of estrogen synthesized within the brain in seizures and epilepsy. Although estrogens, particularly estradiol, are primarily observed to have effects that promote seizure activity, much of the attention has been paid to estrogens from the ovaries. The brain itself, however, is also a source of estradiol in both males and females, and concentrations of estradiol in certain areas of the brain can exceed those observed in the circulation. Our ongoing research is examining the specific roles for brain-derived estradiol (neuroestradiol) in excitability and seizures in mouse models of epilepsy and Alzheimer disease.

To perform our research, we use several techniques including patch clamp electrophysiology, optogenetics/chemogenetics, stereotactic surgeries, electroencephalography (EEG), viral vectors, neuroanatomy, and behavioral assays. 

Education

A.B. 2001 Smith College, Northampton, MA
Ph.D. 2007 University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Postdoc 2008-2014 Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA

Awards and Honors

List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent, multiple years
Neuroscience Program Faculty Mentor Recognition Award, UIUC, 2024
University of Virginia Medical Alumni Association Distinguished Achievement in Biomedical Sciences Award, 2023
Center for Advanced Study Fellow, UIUC 2020-2021
Brain Research Foundation Fay/Frank Seed Grant, 2016-2018
Whitehall Foundation Research Grant, 2016-2019
NARSAD Young Investigator Grant, 2016-2018
Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) Taking Flight Award, 2014
McCormick Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stanford School of Medicine, 2012
Epilepsy Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2011
Endocrine Scholars Award, The Endocrine Society, 2008
Peach Outstanding Graduate Student Award, University of Virginia, 2006
NIH National Research Service Award, 2005-2007
Fulbright Fellowship to Italy, 2001
Beckman Foundation Science Scholarship, 2000

Additional Campus Affiliations

Highlighted Publications

Representative Publications

Courtney CD, Sobieski C, Ramakrishnan C, Ingram RJ, Wojnowski NM, DeFazio RA, Deisseroth K, Christian-Hinman CA (2023) Optoalpha1AR activation in astrocytes modulates basal hippocampal synaptic excitation and inhibition in a stimulation-specific manner. Hippocampus 33:1277-1291

Lawande NV, Conklin EA, Christian-Hinman CA (2023) Sex and gonadectomy modify behavioral seizure susceptibility and mortality in a repeated low-dose kainic acid systemic injection paradigm in mice. Epilepsia Open 8:1512-1522

Cutia CA, Christian-Hinman CA (2023) Mechanisms linking neurological disorders with reproductive endocrine dysfunction: Insights from epilepsy research. Front Neuroendocrinol 71:101084

Cutia CA, Leverton LK, Christian-Hinman CA (2023) Sex and estrous cycle stage shape left-right asymmetry in chronic hippocampal seizures in mice. eNeuro 10:ENEURO.0041-23.2023

Cutia CA, Leverton LK, Weis KE, Raetzman LT, Christian-Hinman CA (2023) Female-specific pituitary gonadotrope dysregulation in mice with chronic focal epilepsyExp Neurol 364:114389

Ingram RJ, Leverton LK, Daniels VC, Li J, Christian-Hinman CA (2022) Increased GABA transmission to GnRH neurons after intrahippocampal kainic acid injection in mice is sex-specific and associated with estrous cycle disruption. Neurobiol Dis 172:105822

Li J, Christian-Hinman CA (2022) Epilepsy-associated increase in gonadotropin-releasing hormone neuron firing in diestrous female mice is independent of chronic seizure burden severity. Epilepsy Res 184:106948

Cutia CA, Leverton LK, Ge X, Youssef R, Raetzman LT, Christian-Hinman CA (2022) Phenotypic differences based on lateralization of intrahippocampal kainic acid injection in female mice. Exp Neurol 355:114118

Li J, Leverton LK, Naganatanahalli LM, Christian-Hinman CA (2020) Seizure burden fluctuates with the female reproductive cycle in a mouse model of chronic temporal lobe epilepsy. Exp Neurol 334:113492

Christian CA, Reddy DS, Maguire J, Forcelli PA (2020) Sex differences in the epilepsies and associated comorbidities: Implications for use and development of pharmacotherapies. Pharmacol Rev 72:767-800

Lawande NV, Ujjainwala AL, Christian CA (2020) A single test to study social behavior and repetitive self-grooming in mice. Bio Protoc 10:e3499

Pantier LK, Li J, Christian CA (2019) Estrous cycle monitoring in mice with rapid data visualization and analysis. Bio Protoc 9:e3354

Ujjainwala AL, Courtney CD, Wojnowski NM, Rhodes JS, Christian CA (2019) Differential impacts on multiple forms of spatial and contextual memory in diazepam binding inhibitor knockout mice. J Neurosci Res 97:683-697

Li J, Robare JA, Gao L, Ghane MA, Flaws JA, Nelson ME, Christian CA (2018) Dynamic and sex-specific changes in gonadotropin-releasing hormone neuron activity and excitability in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy. eNeuro 5:ENEURO.0273-18.2018

Courtney CD, Christian CA (2018) Subregion-specific impacts of genetic loss of diazepam binding inhibitor on synaptic inhibition in the murine hippocampus. Neuroscience 388:128-138

Ujjainwala AL, Courtney CD, Rhoads SG, Rhodes JS, Christian CA (2018) Genetic loss of diazepam binding inhibitor in mice impairs social interest. Genes Brain Behav 17:e12442

Li J, Kim JS, Abejuela VA, Lamano JB, Klein NJ, Christian CA (2017) Disrupted female estrous cyclicity in the intrahippocampal kainic acid mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsia Open 2:39-47

Christian CA (2017) Neurophysiology of gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons. Hormones, Brain and Behavior, 3rd ed. Vol. 3, 379-400

Recent Publications

Kumar, V., Lee, K. Y., Acharya, A., Babik, M. S., Christian-Hinman, C. A., Rhodes, J. S., & Tsai, N. P. (2024). mGluR7 allosteric modulator AMN082 corrects protein synthesis and pathological phenotypes in FXS. EMBO Molecular Medicine, 16(3), 506-522. https://doi.org/10.1038/s44321-024-00038-w

Nagarajan, R., Lyu, J., Kambali, M., Wang, M., Courtney, C. D., Christian-Hinman, C. A., & Rudolph, U. (2024). Genetic Ablation of Dentate Hilar Somatostatin-Positive GABAergic Interneurons is Sufficient to Induce Cognitive Impairment. Molecular Neurobiology, 61(2), 567-580. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12035-023-03586-3

Courtney, C. D., Sobieski, C., Ramakrishnan, C., Ingram, R. J., Wojnowski, N. M., DeFazio, R. A., Deisseroth, K., & Christian-Hinman, C. A. (2023). Optoα1AR activation in astrocytes modulates basal hippocampal synaptic excitation and inhibition in a stimulation-specific manner. Hippocampus, 33(12), 1277-1291. https://doi.org/10.1002/hipo.23580

Cutia, C. A., Leverton, L. K., Weis, K. E., Raetzman, L. T., & Christian-Hinman, C. A. (2023). Female-specific pituitary gonadotrope dysregulation in mice with chronic focal epilepsy. Experimental Neurology, 364, Article 114389. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2023.114389

Cutia, C. A., & Christian-Hinman, C. A. (2023). Mechanisms linking neurological disorders with reproductive endocrine dysfunction: Insights from epilepsy research. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 71, Article 101084. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yfrne.2023.101084

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