Honors & Awards

  • Career Development Award, PLN Heart Foundation (2022)
  • MAVENS Early Career Program, Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, Stanford University (2022)
  • Stanford CVI Travel Award, Stanford University (2022)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Member, Association for Women in Science (AWIS) (2020 - Present)
  • Associate Member, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) (2022 - Present)
  • Member, American Heart Association (AHA) (2019 - Present)

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Medicine, Unlisted School (2011)
  • Diploma, Unlisted School (2014)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Unlisted School (2015)
  • Diplome, Universite De Paris Vii (2013)
  • Diploma, Universidad Catolica Argentina (2014)

All Publications

  • Human iPSC modeling of heart disease for drug development. Cell chemical biology Hnatiuk, A. P., Briganti, F. n., Staudt, D. W., Mercola, M. n. 2021; 28 (3): 271–82


    Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) have emerged as a promising platform for pharmacogenomics and drug development. In cardiology, they make it possible to produce unlimited numbers of patient-specific human cells that reproduce hallmark features of heart disease in the culture dish. Their potential applications include the discovery of mechanism-specific therapeutics, the evaluation of safety and efficacy in a human context before a drug candidate reaches patients, and the stratification of patients for clinical trials. Although this new technology has the potential to revolutionize drug discovery, translational hurdles have hindered its widespread adoption for pharmaceutical development. Here we discuss recent progress in overcoming these hurdles that should facilitate the use of hiPSCs to develop new medicines and individualize therapies for heart disease.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chembiol.2021.02.016

    View details for PubMedID 33740432

  • Stars in the Night Sky: iPSC-Cardiomyocytes Return the Patient Context to Drug Screening. Cell stem cell Hnatiuk, A., Mercola, M. 2019; 24 (4): 506–7


    iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes have the potential to revolutionize the discovery of new medicines for serious heart conditions; however, heart failure remains a major cause of mortality worldwide. In this issue of Cell Stem Cell, Fiedler etal. (2019) describe using iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes to screen new chemical entities, discovering a small molecule for ischemic injury.

    View details for PubMedID 30951657

  • Stars in the Night Sky: iPSC-Cardiomyocytes Return the Patient Context to Drug Screening CELL STEM CELL Hnatiuk, A., Mercola, M. 2019; 24 (4): 506–7
  • High-dose intramyocardial HMGB1 induces long-term cardioprotection in sheep with myocardial infarction. Drug delivery and translational research Bauzá, M. D., Giménez, C. S., Locatelli, P. n., De Lorenzi, A. n., Hnatiuk, A. n., Capogrossi, M. C., Crottogini, A. n., Cuniberti, L. n., Olea, F. D. 2019; 9 (5): 935–44


    In rodents with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) injection has produced controversial results. Given the lack of data in large mammals, we searched the dose that would promote angiogenesis and expression of specific regenerative genes in sheep with AMI (protocol 1) and, subsequently, use this dose to study long-term effects on infarct size and left ventricular (LV) function (protocol 2). Protocol 1: Sheep with AMI received 250 μg (high-dose, n = 7), 25 μg (low-dose, n = 7) HMGB1, or PBS (placebo, n = 7) in 10 intramyocardial injections (0.2 ml each) in the peri-infarct area. Seven days later, only the high-HMGB1-dose group exhibited higher microvascular densities, Ki67-positive cardiomyocytes, and overexpression of VEGF, Ckit, Tbx20, Nkx2.5, and Gata4. Protocol 2: Sheep with AMI received HMGB1 250 μg (n = 6) or PBS (n = 6). At 60 days, HMGB1-treated sheep showed smaller infarcts (8.5 ± 2.11 vs. 12.2 ± 1.97% LV area, P < 0.05, ANOVA-Bonferroni) and higher microvascular density (capillaries, 1798 ± 252 vs. 1266 ± 250/mm2; arterioles, 18.3 ± 3.9 vs. 11.7 ± 2.2/mm2; both P < 0.01). Echocardiographic LV ejection fraction, circumferential shortening, and wall thickening increased from day 3 to 60 with HMGB1 (all P < 0.05). Conclusion: in ovine AMI, high-dose HMGB1 induces angio-arteriogenesis, reduces infarct size, and improves LV function at 2 months post-treatment.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s13346-019-00628-z

    View details for PubMedID 30859393

  • Effect of poly (l-lactic acid) scaffolds seeded with aligned diaphragmatic myoblasts overexpressing connexin-43 on infarct size and ventricular function in sheep with acute coronary occlusion. Artificial cells, nanomedicine, and biotechnology Giménez, C. S., Olea, F. D., Locatelli, P. n., Dewey, R. A., Abraham, G. A., Montini Ballarin, F. n., Bauzá, M. D., Hnatiuk, A. n., De Lorenzi, A. n., Neira Sepúlveda, Á. n., Embon, M. n., Cuniberti, L. n., Crottogini, A. n. 2018; 46 (sup3): S717–S724


    Diaphragmatic myoblasts (DM) are stem cells of the diaphragm, a muscle displaying high resistance to stress and exhaustion. We hypothesized that DM modified to overexpress connexin-43 (cx43), seeded on aligned poly (l-lactic acid) (PLLA) sheets would decrease infarct size and improve ventricular function in sheep with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Sheep with AMI received PLLA sheets without DM (PLLA group), sheets with DM (PLLA-DM group), sheets with DM overexpressing cx43 (PLLA-DMcx43) or no treatment (control group, n = 6 per group). Infarct size (cardiac magnetic resonance) decreased ∼25% in PLLA-DMcx43 [from 8.2 ± 0.6 ml (day 2) to 6.5 ± 0.7 ml (day 45), p < .01, ANOVA-Bonferroni] but not in the other groups. Ejection fraction (EF%) (echocardiography) at 3 days post-AMI fell significantly in all groups. At 45 days, PLLA-DM y PLLA-DMcx43 recovered their EF% to pre-AMI values (PLLA-DM: 61.1 ± 0.5% vs. 58.9 ± 3.3%, p = NS; PLLA-DMcx43: 64.6 ± 2.9% vs. 56.9 ± 2.4%, p = NS), but not in control (56.8 ± 2.0% vs. 43.8 ± 1.1%, p < .01) and PLLA (65.7 ± 2.1% vs. 56.6 ± 4.8%, p < .01). Capillary density was higher (p < .05) in PLLA-DMcx43 group than in the remaining groups. In conclusion, PLLA-DMcx43 reduces infarct size in sheep with AMI. PLLA-DMcx43 and PLLA-DM improve ventricular function similarly. Given its safety and feasibility, this novel approach may prove beneficial in the clinic.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/21691401.2018.1508029

    View details for PubMedID 30289284

  • Allogeneic Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Overexpressing Mutant Human Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1-a (HIF1-a) in an Ovine Model of Acute Myocardial Infarction. Journal of the American Heart Association Hnatiuk, A. P., Ong, S., Olea, F. D., Locatelli, P., Riegler, J., Lee, W. H., Jen, C. H., De Lorenzi, A., Giménez, C. S., Laguens, R., Wu, J. C., Crottogini, A. 2016; 5 (7)


    Bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BMMSCs) are cardioprotective in acute myocardial infarction (AMI) because of release of paracrine angiogenic and prosurvival factors. Hypoxia-inducible factor 1-α (HIF1-α), rapidly degraded during normoxia, is stabilized during ischemia and upregulates various cardioprotective genes. We hypothesized that BMMSCs engineered to overexpress mutant, oxygen-resistant HIF1-α would confer greater cardioprotection than nontransfected BMMSCs in sheep with AMI.Allogeneic BMMSCs transfected with a minicircle vector encoding mutant HIF1-α (BMMSC-HIF) were injected in the peri-infarct of sheep (n=6) undergoing coronary occlusion. Over 2 months, infarct volume measured by cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging decreased by 71.7±1.3% (P<0.001), and left ventricular (LV) percent ejection fraction (%EF) increased near 2-fold (P<0.001) in the presence of markedly decreased end-systolic volume. Sheep receiving nontransfected BMMSCs (BMMSC; n=6) displayed less infarct size limitation and percent LVEF improvement, whereas in placebo-treated animals (n=6), neither parameters changed over time. HIF1-α-transfected BMMSCs (BMMSC-HIF) induced angio-/arteriogenesis and decreased apoptosis by HIF1-mediated overexpression of erythropoietin, inducible nitrous oxide synthase, vascular endothelial growth factor, and angiopoietin-1. Cell tracking using paramagnetic iron nanoparticles in 12 additional sheep revealed enhanced long-term retention of BMMSC-HIF.Intramyocardial delivery of BMMSC-HIF reduced infarct size and improved LV systolic performance compared to BMMSC, attributed to increased neovascularization and cardioprotective effects induced by HIF1-mediated overexpression of paracrine factors and enhanced retention of injected cells. Given the safety of the minicircle vector and the feasibility of BMMSCs for allogeneic application, this treatment may be potentially useful in the clinic.

    View details for DOI 10.1161/JAHA.116.003714

    View details for PubMedID 27385426

  • Mesenchymal stromal cells overexpressing vascular endothelial growth factor in ovine myocardial infarction. Gene therapy Locatelli, P., Olea, F. D., Hnatiuk, A., De Lorenzi, A., Cerdá, M., Giménez, C. S., Sepúlveda, D., Laguens, R., Crottogini, A. 2015; 22 (6): 449-57


    Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are cardioprotective in acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Besides, we have shown that intramyocardial injection of plasmid-VEGF(165) (pVEGF) in ovine AMI reduces infarct size and improves left ventricular (LV) function. We thus hypothesized that MSCs overexpressing VEGF(165) (MSCs-pVEGF) would afford greater cardioprotection than non-modified MSCs or pVEGF alone. Sheep underwent an anteroapical AMI and, 1 week later, received intramyocardial MSCs-pVEGF in the infarct border. One month post treatment, infarct size (magnetic resonance) decreased by 31% vs pre-treatment. Of note, myocardial salvage occurred predominantly at the subendocardium, the myocardial region displaying the largest contribution to systolic performance. Consistently, LV ejection fraction recovered to almost its baseline value because of marked decrease in end-systolic volume. None of these effects were observed in sheep receiving non-transfected MSCs or pVEGF. Although myocardial retention of MSCs decreased steeply over time, the treatment induced significant capillary and arteriolar proliferation, which reduced subendocardial fibrosis. We conclude that in ovine AMI, allogeneic VEGF-overexpressing MSCs induce subendocardial myocardium salvage through microvascular proliferation, reducing infarct size and improving LV function more than non-transfected MSCs or the naked plasmid. Importantly, the use of a plasmid rather than a virus allows for repeated treatments, likely needed in ischemic heart disease.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/gt.2015.28

    View details for PubMedID 25789461

  • Vascular endothelial growth factor overexpression does not enhance adipose stromal cell-induced protection on muscle damage in critical limb ischemia. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology Olea, F. D., Locatelli, P., Hnatiuk, A., De Lorenzi, A., Valdivieso, L., Rocha, E., Ramírez, R., Laguens, R., Crottogini, A. 2015; 35 (1): 184-8


    Critical limb ischemia complicates peripheral artery disease leading to tissue damage and amputation. We hypothesized that modifying adipose stromal cells (ASCs) to overexpress human vascular endothelial growth factor 165 (VEGF) would limit ischemic muscle damage to a larger extent than nonmodified ASCs.Rabbits with critical hindlimb ischemia were injected with allogeneic abdominal fat-derived ASCs transfected with plasmid-VEGF165 (ASCs-VEGF; n=10). Additional rabbits received nontransfected ASCs (ASCs; n=10) or vehicle (placebo; n=10). One month later, ASCs-VEGF rabbits exhibited significantly higher density of angiographically visible collaterals and capillaries versus placebo (both P<0.05) but not versus ASCs (both P=NS). Arteriolar density, however, was increased in both ASCs and ASCs-VEGF groups (both P<0.05 versus placebo). ASCs-VEGF and ASCs showed comparable post-treatment improvements in Doppler-assessed peak systolic velocity, blood pressure ratio, and resistance index. Ischemic lesions were found in 40% of the muscle samples in the placebo group, 19% in the ASCs-VEGF group, and 17% in the ASCs groups (both P<0.05 versus placebo, Fisher test).In a rabbit model of critical limb ischemia, intramuscular injection of ASCs genetically modified to overexpress VEGF increase angiographically visible collaterals and capillary density. However, both modified and nonmodified ASCs increase arteriolar density to a similar extent and afford equal protection against ischemia-induced muscle lesions. These results indicate that modifying ASCs to overexpress VEGF does not enhance the protective effect of ASCs, and that arteriolar proliferation plays a pivotal role in limiting the irreversible tissue damage of critical limb ischemia.

    View details for DOI 10.1161/ATVBAHA.114.304348

    View details for PubMedID 25414254

  • Efficient plasmid-mediated gene transfection of ovine bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells. Cytotherapy Locatelli, P., Olea, F. D., Hnatiuk, A., Sepúlveda, D., Pérez Sáez, J. M., Argüello, R., Crottogini, A. 2013; 15 (2): 163-70


    Given the close similarity between ovine and human cardiomyocytes, sheep models of myocardial infarction and heart failure are increasingly used in studies of stem cell-mediated heart regeneration. In these studies, mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are frequently employed. To enhance the paracrine effects of these MSCs, ex vivo transfection with genes encoding growth factors has been proposed. Although viral vectors exhibit higher transfection efficiency than plasmids, they entail the risks of uncontrolled transgene expression and immune reactions that preclude repeated administration. Our aim was to optimize the efficiency of plasmid-mediated transfection of ovine MSCs, while preserving cell viability.Varying amounts of diverse cationic lipids were used to obtain the reagent-to-DNA mass ratio showing highest luciferase activity. Transfection efficiency (flow cytometry) was tested on plasmid-green fluorescent protein-transfected MSCs at increasing DNA mass.Lipofectamine LTX 5 μL and Plus reagent 4 μL with 2 μg of DNA yielded 42.3 ± 4.7% transfection efficiency, while preserving cell viability. Using these transfection conditions, we transfected MSCs with a plasmid encoding human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and found high VEGF protein concentrations in the culture supernatant from day 2 (1968 ± 324 pg/mL per μg DNA) through at least day 12 (888 ± 386 pg/mL per μg DNA) after transfection.Plasmid-mediated transfection of ovine MSCs to over-express paracrine heart-regenerative growth factors is feasible and efficient and overcomes the risks and limitations associated with the use of viral vectors.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jcyt.2012.11.004

    View details for PubMedID 23321328

  • Reference values for echocardiographic parameters and indexes of left ventricular function in healthy, young adult sheep used in translational research: comparison with standardized values in humans. International journal of clinical and experimental medicine Locatelli, P., Olea, F. D., De Lorenzi, A., Salmo, F., Vera Janavel, G. L., Hnatiuk, A. P., Guevara, E., Crottogini, A. J. 2011; 4 (4): 258-64


    Ovine models of ischemic heart disease and cardiac failure are increasingly used in translational research. However, reliable extrapolation of the results to the clinical setting requires knowing if ovine normal left ventricular (LV) function is comparable to that of humans. We thus assessed for echocardiographic LV dimensions and indexes in a large normal adult sheep population and compared them with standardized values in normal human adults. Bidimensional and tissue Doppler echocardiograms were performed in 69 young adult Corriedale sheep under light sedation. LV dimensions and indexes of systolic and diastolic function were measured. Absolute and body surface areanormalized values were compared to those for normal adult humans and their statistical distribution was assessed. Normalized dimensions (except for end diastolic diameter) as well as ejection fraction and fractional shortening fell within the ranges established by the American Society of Echocardiography and European Association of Echocardiography for normal adult humans. Normalized end diastolic diameter exceeded the upper normal limit but got close to it when correcting for the higher heart mass/body surface area ratio of sheep with respect to humans. Diastolic parameters also fell within normal human ranges except for a slightly lower mitral deceleration time. All values exhibited a Gaussian distribution. We conclude that echocardiographic parameters of systolic and diastolic LV performance in young adult sheep can be reliably extrapolated to the adult human, thus supporting the use of ovine models of human heart disease in translational research.

    View details for PubMedID 22140597

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3228581

  • An ovine model of postinfarction dilated cardiomyopathy in animals with highly variable coronary anatomy. ILAR journal Locatelli, P., Olea, F. D., Mendiz, O., Salmo, F., Fazzi, L., Hnatiuk, A., Laguens, R., Crottogini, A. 2011; 52 (1): E16-21


    Studies on cardiac regeneration require large mammalian models of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) after acute myocardial infarction (AMI), and pig and sheep models are increasingly used in this field of preclinical research. Given the large interindividual variability in ovine left anterior descending artery (LAD) anatomy, protocols based on the coronary arteries to be ligated often lead to significant variation in infarct sizes and hence to heterogeneous results, ranging from no ventricular remodeling to acute, lethal left ventricular (LV) failure. We designed an ovine model of postinfarction DCM based on estimated infarct size rather than on a predetermined menu of coronary artery ligatures. In seven adult sheep we induced an anterolateral AMI of approximately 25% of the LV mass by ligating the branches of the LAD that, by visual inspection, would lead to such an infarct size. In 10 to 12 weeks, LV end-diastolic volume more than doubled and LV end-systolic volume almost tripled. LV ejection fraction decreased dramatically, as did LV percent fractional shortening and LV percent wall thickening. Infarct size (planimetry) was approximately 25% of the LV endocardial surface. We conclude that in sheep, an anterolateral AMI of approximately 25% of the LV mass--regardless of the coronary branches ligated to attain that infarct size--results in a model of postinfarction DCM that may prove useful in preclinical research on myocardial regeneration.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/ilar.52.1.e16

    View details for PubMedID 21454923